Hamlet and Horatio Dialogue
Act 5.1.169-200, by Ahmed Bakri
Alexander The Great
Throughout the play, Hamlet is infatuated with death, but in this scene he questions the purpose of life. He compares the lives of Yorick, a jester, and Alexander, a conqueror. ''Dost thou think Alexander looked o' this fashion in' th' earth?''(5.1.183). Hamlet seems to think that since everyone will eventually be buried in the ground, achievements in life have no matter. But of course, Alexander will be great forever and Yorick will be forgotten eventually.
One of the themes in Shakespears Hamlet is mortality, This scene takes place in a graveyard where Hamlet speaks about the inevitability of death. The ''angle of death'' is significant to this dialogue because he is someone who everyone will meet someday. '' Now get you to my ladys chamber and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor she must come''(5.1.177-179). Hamlet is saying that death will come to everyone no matter what you do.
It's fair to say that everyone, at some point, fears death, but not everyone accepts that it will happen. In this dialogue, Hamlet seems to accept that he will die soon and he tries to comfort himself by saying that it will happen to everyone. ''Alexander died, Alexander was buried''(5.1.192-193). Ophelia and his father dying could have helped Hamlet realize that death may not be the worst thing. He has suffered a lot, mainly because of the death of two loved ones and he may think that nothing could be worst than what he has felt throughout the play.
Yorick seems to mean a lot to Hamlet by the way he speaks about him. ''A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy''(5.1.169-170). He speaks very passionately about him and makes it seem like Yorick was an important figure in his childhood. Being a prince, Hamlet may have not had a normal childhood so Yorick was probably one of Hamlets closest friends. Yorick isn't Alexander the Great, but to Hamlet, he is a great memory.
Hamlet has a very depressing idea of what happens to a body after death, ''dead and turn'd to clay. Might stop a hole to keep the wind away''(5.1.197-198). Hamlet speaks about how a man who was as powerful as Caesar would turn to dust when dead and be used to fill a whole in wall. The picture of a hole in a wall is significant because, according to Hamlet, when we die, our corpse is only useful for filling in holes.
Allusions of Caesar and Alexander are used to give examples of powerful people who passed away. ''Alexander returneth to dust...Imperious Caesar''(5.1.193-197). Hamlet uses their names to compare their lives and Yoricks. He concludes that even though they lived different lives, when they are dead, they are the same.