Act5 Summary

Act5 Summary - Summary and Analysis of Act 5 Scene 1 The...

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Summary and Analysis of Act 5 Scene 1 The final Act begins with a conversation between two gravediggers as they dig Ophelia ’s grave. They repeat a rumor that Ophelia committed suicide and wonder whether she ought to be buried in hallowed ground. We learn that the king has overridden the objections of the clergy and provided for her burial. After some witty and macabre banter on the nature of gravedigging, Hamlet and Horatio enter. The main gravedigger sends his partner off for a cup of liquor and then commences to dig, singing songs all the while. Hamlet appears fascinated by the gravedigger’s indifference to the gravity of his profession. As the gravediggers throws various skulls out of the grave, Hamlet wonders whom they might have belonged to in life – whether a courtier or a lawyer. Hamlet approaches the gravedigger and exchanges witticisms about this morbid work. The gravedigger informs Hamlet about the length of time it takes bodies to decay in the ground. He then produces a skull from the grave that he says has been lying there for twenty-three years. The gravedigger says that this is the skull of Yorick, the old king’s jester. Hamlet is amazed – he knew Yorick and loved him as a child. He takes up the skull and speaks about Yorick, a topic that leads him to consider the nature of mortality more generally. A procession interrupts Hamlet’s reveries – Claudius , Gertrude , and Laertes march toward the grave along with a priest and an entourage bearing a body. Hamlet notices that the burial is less elaborate than usual, signifying that the deceased was a suicide. He and Horatio stand aside while Laertes argues with the priest about the paltriness of the burial rites. In the course of his arguing with the priest, Laertes reveals to Hamlet that the dead body is that of Ophelia. Gertrude steps forward to say farewell to Ophelia. Laertes follows. In his intense grief, Laertes leaps into his sister’s grave to hold her body again and orders the gravediggers to bury him alive. Provoked by this show of grief, Hamlet then reveals himself. After grappling with Laertes, Hamlet declares that he loved Ophelia more than forty thousand brothers could. The king and queen dismiss his avowal as madness. Hamlet then exits and Horatio follows him. After they have left, Claudius reminds Laertes of their plan to take care of Hamlet. Scene 2 Hamlet explains to Horatio what happened on his journey to England. He says that he strongly suspected Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of foul play, and so decided to apprehend their letter to England. In the letter he found an order for his death. Hamlet then devised a substitute letter asking for the deaths of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. He happened to have a signet ring in the shape of the seal of Denmark, and so sealed the letter. Hamlet then replaced the letter while Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were asleep. At this point, pirates attacked the vessel, as related previously.
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  • Spring '08
  • GRACE
  • Hamlet, Mortality, Revenge, The Ghost, Hamlet, Claudius, Horatio, Laertes, Ophelia, Gertrude, Fortinbras, Gravedigger, Guildenstern, Osric, Rosencrantz

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Act5 Summary - Summary and Analysis of Act 5 Scene 1 The...

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