Dialogue, Hamlet and Horatio

Act 5.1.178-209, by Nicholas Huynh

Yorick's Skull

This skull symbolizes death, a theme in which Hamlet knows all too well. But yet again he encounters it again through a person that he known closely, a Jester named Yorick. This is evident through the lines, "he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is!" (5.1.174) Shows how Hamlet retains emotions for those who were close to him during his life. This skull was more fuel on the fire for Hamlet's emotions and ignited his existential nature.

Image source: http://science-all.com/wallpapers/skull-pic.html

Where be your gibes now?

In this passage, Hamlet is referring to his previous jester whom of which has died. Hamlet has known him quite well but in a sense mock's the deceased jester's skull. Such act is shown in the line, "Where be your gibes now?" (5.1.178) This shows Hamlet's little care for the dead and displays his existential views of life. Thus the picture of The Simpson's Nelson Muntz laughing comically reflects Hamlets attitude towards Yorick's death. To Hamlet, his death was almost laughable.

Image source: The Simpsons https://twitter.com/nelsonrufinom


Hamlet is asking if Alexander looked the same way as Yorick when he died. The picture displayed is a depiction of Alexander the Great, the legendary King of Greece who created one of the largest empires in the ancient world. Throughout the play, Hamlet has been questioning the purpose and value of life due to traumatising events. Thus, it suggests irony that even a great person like Alexander will eventually meet his demise and be on as equal levels as a Jester. This exemplifies Hamlet's character even more as an existentialist.

Image source: http://www.biography.com/people/alexander-the-great-9180468

And smelt so? pah! (5.1.186)

The image shown is a man closing his nostrils because of a foul stench, much like how Hamlet was disgusted by Yorick's skull. Again, Hamlet is mocking the status of a famous and accomplished person, of whom is Alexander the great. Also, Hamlet is comparing the deaths of two very different people; a Jester who is a servant to the King and an actually King who achieved substantial goals. However, Hamlet still implies that they both met a similar fate. This further cements Hamlet's view on mortality since he believes that eventually everyone would die and all will be turned into dust.

Image source: http://www.menshealth.com/grooming/cures-for-smelly-feet

The dust is earth

Throughout the passage, Hamlet uses dust as a form in which one will succumb to in death. Within the text, Hamlet proposes that when Alexander died, he was reduced to dust. This is evident when Hamlet said, "Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth" (5.1.195) This refers to Hamlet's existential thoughts of how everyone, no matter what status or accomplishments, will eventually die and turn into dust. Also, the passage can also connect Hamlet's desire to seek revenge on Claudius and how he views that even a King will turn to dust.

Image source: http://blogs.channel4.com/liam-dutton-on-weather/saharan-dust-falls-uk/6243

Turned to clay

Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay, Might stop a hole to keep the wind away. (5.1.199) This passage is referring to Julius Caesar, a famous emperor of Rome, one of the largest and longest empires in the world. Hamlet is implying that though Caesar is dead, he still has purpose as clay. Clay can be molded and be used to patch damages such as when Hamlet said, "Should patch a wall t' expel the winter’s flaw!"(5.1.200) Thus it applies to how a great person like Caesar who left the world in awe, can now be used just to patch a wall.

Image source: http://fun.familyeducation.com/sculpting/recipes/37040.html