Act V - Scene I


[Elsinore. A churchyard.]

Enter two Clowns.

FIRST CLOWN:
Is she to be buried in Christian burial that wilfully
seeks her own salvation?
SECOND CLOWN:
I tell thee she is; therefore make her grave
straight. The crowner hath sat on her, and finds it Christian
burial.(5)
FIRST CLOWN:
How can that be, unless she drown'd herself in
her own defence?
SECOND CLOWN:
Why, 'tis found so.
FIRST CLOWN:
It must be se offendendo; it cannot be else. For
here lies the point: if I drown myself wittingly, it argues an(10)
act; and an act hath three branches: it is to act, to do, and to
perform; argal, she drown'd herself wittingly.
SECOND CLOWN:
Nay, but hear you, goodman delver—
FIRST CLOWN:
Give me leave. Here lies the water—good. Here
stands the man—good. If the man go to this water and(15)
drown himself, it is, will he, nill he, he goes. Mark you that.
But if the water come to him and drown him, he drowns not
himself. Argal, he that is not guilty of his own death shortens
not his own life.
SECOND CLOWN:
But is this law?(20)
FIRST CLOWN:
Ay, marry, is't; crowner's quest law.
SECOND CLOWN:
Will you ha' the truth on't? If this had not been
a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o' Christian
burial.
FIRST CLOWN:
Why, there thou say'st! And the more pity that(25)
great folk should have countenance in this world to drown
or hang themselves more than their even Christian. Come,
my spade! There is no ancient gentlemen but gardeners,
ditchers, and grave-makers. They hold up Adam's
profession.(30)
SECOND CLOWN:
Was he a gentleman?
FIRST CLOWN:
A was the first that ever bore arms.
SECOND CLOWN:
Why, he had none.
FIRST CLOWN:
What, art a heathen? How dost thou under-
stand the Scripture? The Scripture says Adam digged.(35)
Could he dig without arms? I'll put another question to
thee. If thou answerest me not to the purpose, confess thy-
self—
SECOND CLOWN:
Go to!
FIRST CLOWN:
What is he that builds stronger than either the(40)
mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?
SECOND CLOWN:
The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a
thousand tenants.
FIRST CLOWN:
I like thy wit well, in good faith. The gallows
does well. But how does it well? It does well to those that(45)
do ill. Now, thou dost ill to say the gallows is built stronger
than the church. Argal, the gallows may do well to thee.
To't again, come!
SECOND CLOWN:
Who builds stronger than a mason, a ship-
wright, or a carpenter?(50)
FIRST CLOWN:
Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.
SECOND CLOWN:
Marry, now I can tell!
FIRST CLOWN:
To't.
SECOND CLOWN:
Mass, I cannot tell.
FIRST CLOWN:
Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your(55)
dull ass will not mend his pace with beating; and when you
are asked this question next, say 'A grave-maker.' The
houses that he makes last till doomsday. Go, get thee in
Yaughan; fetch me a stoup of liquor.

[Exit Second Clown. First Clown digs and sings.]

In youth when I did love, did love,(60)
Methought it was very sweet;
To contract—O—the time for—a—my behove,
O, methought there—a—was nothing—a meet.

Enter Hamlet and Horatio.

HAMLET:
Has this fellow no feeling of his business, that he sings
at grave-making?(65)
HORATIO:
Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness.
HAMLET:
'tis e'en so. The hand of little employment hath the
daintier sense.
FIRST CLOWN:
[Sings.]
But age with his stealing steps(70)
Hath clawed me in his clutch,
And hath shipped me intil the land,
As if I had never been such.

[Throws up a skull.]

HAMLET:
That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once.
How the knave jowls it to the ground, as if 'were Cain's(75)
jawbone, that did the first murder! This might be the pate of a
politician, which this ass now o'erreaches; one that would
circumvent God, might it not?
HORATIO:
It might, my lord.
HAMLET:
Or of a courtier, which could say 'Good morrow, sweet(80)
lord!
How dost thou, sweet lord?' This might be my Lord Such-a-
one, that praised my Lord Such-a-one's horse when he meant
to beg it, might it not?
HORATIO:
Ay, my lord.(85)
HAMLET:
Why, e'en so! and now my Lady Worm's, chapless,
and knock'd about the mazard with a sexton's spade. Here's
fine revolution, and we had the trick to see't. Did these bones
cost no more the breeding, but to play at loggets with 'em?
Mine ache to think on't.(90)
FIRST CLOWN:
[Sings.]
A pickaxe and a spade, a spade,
For and a shrouding sheet;
O, a Pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet.(95)

[Throws up another skull.]

HAMLET:
There's another. Why may not that be the skull of a
lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillets, his
cases, his tenures, and his tricks? Why does he suffer this
rude knave now to knock him about the sconce with a dirty
shovel, and will not tell him of his action of battery?(100)
Hum! This fellow might be in's time a great buyer of land,
with his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double
vouchers, his recoveries. Is this the fine of his fines,
and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full
of fine dirt? Will his vouchers vouch him no more of his(105)
purchases, and double ones too, than the length and
breadth of a pair of indentures? The very conveyances
of his lands will scarcely lie in this box; and must the inheritor
himself have no more, ha?
HORATIO:
Not a jot more, my lord.(110)
HAMLET:
Is not parchment made of sheepskins?
HORATIO:
Ay, my lord, And of calveskins too.
HAMLET:
They are sheep and calves which seek out assurance
in that. I will speak to this fellow. Whose grave's this, sir-
rah?(115)
FIRST CLOWN:
Mine, sir.

[Sings.]

O, a pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet.
HAMLET:
I think it be thine indeed, for thou liest in't.
FIRST CLOWN:
You lie out on't, sir, and therefore 'tis not(120)
yours. For my part, I do not lie in't, yet it is mine.
HAMLET:
Thou dost lie in't, to be in't and say it' 'tis thine. 'tis
for the dead, not for the quick; therefore thou liest.
FIRST CLOWN:
'tis a quick lie, sir; 'twill away again from me to
you.(125)
HAMLET:
What man dost thou dig it for?
FIRST CLOWN:
For no man, sir.
HAMLET:
What woman then?
FIRST CLOWN:
For none, neither.
HAMLET:
Who is to be buried in't?(130)
FIRST CLOWN:
One that was a woman, sir; but, rest her soul,
she's dead.
HAMLET:
How absolute the knave is! We must speak by the
card, or equivocation will undo us. By the Lord,
Horatio, this three years I have taken note of it, the age is(135)
grown so picked that the toe of the peasant comes so near
the heel of the courtier he galls his kibe. How long hast
thou been a grave-maker?
FIRST CLOWN:
Of all the days i' the year, I came to't that day
that our last king Hamlet overcame Fortinbras.(140)
HAMLET:
How long is that since?
FIRST CLOWN:
Cannot you tell that? Every fool can tell that. It
was the very day that young Hamlet was born—he that is
mad, and sent into England.
HAMLET:
Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?(145)
FIRST CLOWN:
Why, because he was mad. A shall recover his wits
there; or, if a do not, 'tis no great matter there.
HAMLET:
Why?
FIRST CLOWN:
'Twill not he seen in him there. There the men are
as mad as he.(150)
HAMLET:
How came he mad?
FIRST CLOWN:
Very strangely, they say.
HAMLET:
How 'strangely'?
FIRST CLOWN:
Faith, e'en with losing his wits.
HAMLET:
Upon what ground?(155)
FIRST CLOWN:
Why, here in Denmark. I have been sexton here,
man and boy, thirty years.
HAMLET:
How long will a man lie i' the earth ere he rot?
FIRST CLOWN:
I' faith, if he be not rotten before he die—as we
have many pocky corses nowadays that will scarce hold the(160)
laying in—he will last you some eight year or nine year. A
tanner will last you nine year.
HAMLET:
Why he more than another?
FIRST CLOWN:
Why, sir, his hide is so tanned with his trade that
a will keep out water a great while; and your water is a sore(165)
decayer of your whoreson dead body. Here's a skull, now.
This skull hath lain in the earth three and twenty years.
HAMLET:
Whose was it?
FIRST CLOWN:
A whoreson, mad fellow's it was. Whose do you
think it was?(170)
HAMLET:
Nay, I know not.
FIRST CLOWN:
A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! A poured
a flagon of Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir,
was Yorick's skull, the King's jester.
HAMLET:
This?(175)
FIRST CLOWN:
E'en that.
HAMLET:

[Takes the skull.]

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him,
Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He
hath borne me on his back a thousand times. And now how
abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here(180)
hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft.
Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs?
your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table
on a roar? Not one now to mock your own grinning? Quite
chop-fallen? Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell(185)
her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must
come. Make her laugh at that. Prithee, Horatio, tell me one
thing.
HORATIO:
What's that, my lord?
HAMLET:
Dost thou think Alexander looked o' this fashion i'(190)
the earth?
HORATIO:
E'en so.
HAMLET:
And smelt so? Pah!
HORATIO:
E'en so, my lord.
HAMLET:
To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may(195)
not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander till he
find it stopping a bung-hole?
HORATIO:
'Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.
HAMLET:
No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither with
modesty enough, and likelihood to lead it; as thus:(200)
Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth
into dust; the dust is earth; of earth we make loam;
and why of that loam, whereto he was converted, might
they not stop a beer barrel?
Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay,(205)
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away.
O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe
Should patch a wall to expel the winter's flaw!
But soft! but soft awhile! Here comes the King,
The Queen, the courtiers.(210)

[Enter Priests, in procession, corpes of Ophelia, Laertes and Mourners following King, Queen, and Attendants.]

Who is this they follow?
And with such maimed rites? This doth betoken
The corse they follow did with desperate hand
Fordo it own life. 'Twas of some estate.
Couch we awhile, and mark.(215)
LAERTES:
What ceremony else?
HAMLET:
That is Laertes, a very noble youth. Mark.
LAERTES:
What ceremony else?
PRIEST:
Her obsequies have been as far enlarged
As we have warranty. Her death was doubtful;(220)
And, but that great command o'ersways the order,
She should in ground unsanctified have lodged
Till the last trumpet. For charitable prayers,
Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown on her.
Yet here she is allow'd her virgin crants,(225)
Her maiden strewments and the bringing home
Of bell and burial.
LAERTES:
Must there no more be done?
PRIEST:
No more be done.
We should profane the service of the dead(230)
To sing a requiem and such rest to her
As to peace-parted souls.
LAERTES:
Lay her i' the earth;
And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
May violets spring! I tell thee, churlish priest,(235)
A ministering angel shall my sister be
When thou liest howling.
HAMLET:
What, the fair Ophelia?
QUEEN:
Sweets to the sweet! Farewell.
I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife;(240)
I thought thy bride-bed to have deck'd, sweet maid,
And not have strew'd thy grave.
LAERTES:
O, treble woe
Fall ten times treble on that cursed head
Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense(245)
Deprived thee of! Hold off the earth awhile,
Till I have caught her once more in mine arms.

[Leaps in the grave.]

Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead
Till of this flat a mountain you have made
To o'ertop old Pelion or the skyish head(250)
Of blue Olympus.
HAMLET:
What is he whose grief
Bears such an emphasis, whose phrase of sorrow
Conjures the wandering stars and makes them stand
Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I,(255)
Hamlet the Dane.

[Leaps in after Laertes.]

LAERTES:
The devil take thy soul!
HAMLET:
Thou pray'st not well.
I prithee, take thy fingers from my throat;
For, though I am not splenitive and rash,(260)
Yet have I in me something dangerous,
Which let thy wisdom fear. Hold off thy hand!
KING:
Pluck them asunder.
QUEEN:
Hamlet, Hamlet!
ALL:
Gentlemen!(265)
HORATIO:
Good my lord, be quiet.
HAMLET:
Why, I will fight with him upon this theme
Until my eyelids will no longer wag.
QUEEN:
O my son, what theme?
HAMLET:
I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers(270)
Could not, with all their quantity of love,
Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her?
KING:
O, he is mad, Laertes.
QUEEN:
For love of God, forbear him!
HAMLET:
'Swounds, show me what thou'lt do.(275)
Woo't weep, woo't fight, woo't fast, woo't tear thyself?
Woo't drink up eisel, eat a crocodile?
I'll do't. Dost thou come here to whine,
To outface me with leaping in her grave?
Be buried quick with her, and so will I.(280)
And, if thou prate of mountains, let them throw
Millions of acres on us, till our ground,
Singeing his pate against the burning zone,
Make Ossa like a wart! Nay, an thou'lt mouth,
I'll rant as well as thou.(285)
QUEEN:
This is mere madness;
And thus awhile the fit will work on him.
Anon, as patient as the female dove
When that her golden couplets are disclosed,
His silence will sit drooping.(290)
HAMLET:
Hear you, sir!
What is the reason that you use me thus?
I loved you ever. But it is no matter.
Let Hercules himself do what he may,
The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.(295)

[Exit.]

KING:
I pray thee, good Horatio, wait upon him.

[Exit Horatio.]

Strengthen your patience in our last night's speech.
We'll put the matter to the present push.—
Good Gertrude, set some watch over your son.
This grave shall have a living monument.(300)
An hour of quiet shortly shall we see;
Till then, in patience our proceeding be.

Exeunt.


Footnotes

  1. Readers will recall that this scene takes place in a graveyard and that the queen is scattering flowers on Ophelia's grave. The expression "sweets to the sweet" then, has much more somber meaning in its original context than the overly-sentimental meaning that the expression has taken on today.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. This insult underpins the main action of the scene so far: the clowns mock death as they dig graves in order to push thoughts of mortality away. The Second Clown cannot think of the answer to this riddle, even though he is in the process of digging graves, because his mind suspends thoughts of his own death.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. One of the most famous moments in Shakespearian tragedy, Hamlet takes this encounter with Yorick's skull to contemplate fate and mortality — inescapable for kings and court jesters alike. Hamlet is disturbed by how the rotting skull contradicts the happy memories he has of Yorick. Critics have also noted that Yorick seems to be a surrogate father figure for Hamlet. Therefore, this moment serves as a reminder to Hamlet of his own immanent demise and the ephemerality of all things.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. While the Priest refuses to say Christian burial rites for Ophelia because she appears to have committed suicide, Laertes is indignant, insisting that his sister's purity will turn her into an angel. A "ministering angel" is one thought to help individuals find salvation. With this rhetoric, Laertes swaps Ophelia and the Priest's roles: Ophelia will become an angel and save souls while the Priest howls in hell as punishment for his sins on earth. Ironically, this outburst of emotion calls attention to the reality that Ophelia would be the one "howling" in hell because of her suicide.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. Here Claudius speaks in a confidential tone to Laertes, asking him to be patient with Hamlet for now and reminding him of what they conspired to do in Act IV, Scene VII. By putting the matter to the "present push," Claudius means that he will immediately arrange a fencing match between Hamlet and Laertes, in which Laertes will kill Hamlet with a foil dipped in poison.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  6. Given that Gertrude was the last character to speak and that Hamlet has never loved either Claudius or Laertes at all, we can assume that Hamlet is actually speaking to God in these lines, asking Him why He has treated him this way, not unlike Christ asking, "Why have you forsaken me?" Hamlet acts like a martyr even as he plots like a murderer, which underscores the changes he's gone through in the course of the play.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  7. In this context, we should read "disclosed" as "hatched" or opened, as when the dove's chicks hatch from the egg and reveal their fluffy yellow (golden) feathers. Gertrude asks to be as patient as the dove he waits for her children to be born, suggesting that she herself has to wait until her son Hamlet returns, or is born again. He has become such a different person in the course of the play that she hardly feels she knows him anymore.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  8. Mount Ossa, another mountain in Greece. Hamlet picks up on Laertes' allusion to Pelion by referring to the myth in which the Aloadaes, twin sons of Poseidon, attempted to overthrow Mount Olympus by piling Mount Pelion on top of Mount Ossa. Hamlet calls for gravediggers to bury them both until they're even taller than these mountains, i.e. until they make the myth ridiculous.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  9. Remember that Laertes was technically at the graveside first and that Hamlet burst in to do the very same thing that he's accusing Laertes of doing: making a show of his grief. He does so rather cruelly, as if no one else is entitled to their emotions--indeed, as if no one else matters. His arrogance has reached new heights, and this rudeness at Ophelia's funeral prepares us for his inevitable fall.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  10. Once again, Hamlet reacts to Horatio's polite suggestion to be quiet by becoming even louder, requiring that Gertrude stand between him and Laertes just as she stood between Claudius and Laertes. Unfortunately, Gertrude doesn't seem to notice this parallel or suspect that Claudius has manipulated Laertes into wanting to kill her son. Instead, she pleads with him the same way she did in Act III, as if he really is mad.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  11. "Splenitive" means spleenful or hot-tempered, the spleen being the source of the yellow bile that's said to make one choleric and easily angered in the theory of Humorism. Hamlet implies that, unlike both Laertes and Claudius, who has twice been described as choleric, he isn't a rash person, but that he should be feared because his anger is much colder and more deliberate.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  12. Up until this line, we assumed that Hamlet was talking about Laertes, whose grief seems strong enough make even the stars pay attention ("conjures" them and "makes them stand"). Now we see that he was actually speaking about himself, as if his grief, as Ophelia's boyfriend, could be deeper and stronger than her brother's grief. Again, Hamlet reveals himself to be arrogant and, in this case, myopic.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  13. Pelion and Olympus are both mountains in Greece. In ancient Greek mythology, Pelion was the birthplace of Chiron, the wise centaur and tutor of heroes like Jason and Achilles, while Olympus was the home of the gods. Laertes wants Ophelia's grave to be an even greater mountain than these, if not in size than in its place in his heart.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  14. Laertes thinks that this cursed head is Hamlet, but he doesn't have all the information. Had Claudius and Polonius refrained from spying on Hamlet, and had Claudius not killed King Hamlet in the first place, Hamlet would've had no reason to kill Polonius. Hamlet may have been the sword, but Claudius and Polonius himself were the force behind it and are as guilty as Hamlet is.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  15. In the same way that we "deck" the halls at Christmas, so bride-beds are decked out with flowers and garlands on the night of a maiden's wedding. As queen, Gertrude would've had the responsibility to do so for her son's wife, but now feels obligated to do so at Ophelia's grave out of guilt for what's happened to her. This inversion emphasizes the suddenness of Ophelia's death and its unusual circumstances.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  16. "For" meaning "instead of" or "in place of" in this context. The priest tells Laertes that Ophelia has already had more funeral rites than she deserves, given the questionable nature of her death. She should've been buried in unhallowed ground with sticks and stones instead of flowers and bells, but the king and queen gave a "great command" or order that she should get a proper burial because they felt guilty for her death, which could've been avoided had they not been spying on Hamlet.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  17. Hamlet and Horatio are standing back and have yet to join the crowd at Ophelia's funeral. Hamlet whispers to Horatio that this is Laertes, who's asking the priest why he hasn't performed the whole ceremony (all the funeral rites). Hamlet doesn't know yet that this is Ophelia and likely thinks that Laertes has returned to bury Polonius, his father.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  18. Though Ophelia will indeed receive a Christian burial, her funeral isn't as grand or as ostentatious as it would've been had she died in some other manner. The king and queen don't want to say outright that she killed herself, but can't in good conscience afford her the same funeral rites as other people. Hence, the "maimed" rites, which tell Hamlet everything he needs to know, except the corpse's identity.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  19. Notice that Hamlet picks up an AABB rhyme scheme in these lines, making these lines seem sing-songy and immature by comparison. He appears to be doing this to make fun of Horatio, who criticized him for thinking too much about death. By speaking in such melodic, rhyming couplets, he attempts to appear logical and precise even as he speaks with a kind of manic intensity.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  20. Horatio politely tells Hamlet that he's thinking too much (too curiously or deeply) about Alexander the Great's noble dust and about death in general. Notice that what follows is the single longest passage in this scene, and that Hamlet doesn't stop thinking about death, but dwells ever deeper on it, in defiance of Horatio's statement.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  21. Alexander the Great, a student of Aristotle and commander of a great empire stretching from the Ionian Sea all the way to the Himalayas. In his time, Alexander the Great was the most powerful man in the world and is still considered one of history's greatest commanders. So one can imagine Hamlet's dismay in thinking that Alexander the Great would end up being just another skull.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  22. Recall that in Act III, Scene I, Hamlet chided Ophelia in particular and women in general for using "paint" or makeup to attract men. He says it in such a way that makeup becomes in itself a "face" that hides the real one underneath, making the "paint" a kind of performance. Thus, this line reads, "You can pretend all you want, but no matter how much makeup you wear, you're still going to die."

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  23. Recall that in Act III, Scene IV, Hamlet used the line, "Which madness/ would gambol from" to mean that madness would appear to gambol or make exaggerated leaps during his conversation with Gertrude. Here, Hamlet aligns his performance of madness and its gambols with the jester's gambols, unwittingly making himself a jester, like the First Clown.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  24. In this context, "gorge" means the contents of one's stomach, which "rises" in revulsion and disgust when he looks at Yorick's skull. Taken literally, Hamlet is saying that he's going to throw up, but in general, he's expressing his disgust, rage, and resentment that Yorick died, even though Hamlet loved him well. He's channeling his anger over his father's death and Ophelia's death into this scene with Yorick's skull, expressing feelings he has never been able to express before.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  25. The First Clown uses "your" here not to refer to Hamlet but to your typical dead body. A "whoreson," unsurprisingly, is the son of a whore or the bastard of a man who likely had another family and didn't want to claim an illegitimate son in order to preserve his estate. The body of such a whoreson would decay slower because it was particularly vile or abominable.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  26. A "pocky" or pocked corpse was one afflicted with the pox, or, in this case, the Bubonic plague, which killed millions of people in Europe and decimated Denmark's population. This might explain Hamlet's line about the age being "picked," meaning that people had been picked off in droves by the plague.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  27. Hamlet asks the First Clown about this because he's curious what the public does and doesn't know and what they've been told about this trip to England. He doesn't think they know about Claudius' plot to kill him, but given how beloved he's said to be, it's not unreasonable for him to want to see where he stands with the public if he does attempt a coup (as killing Claudius would be).

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  28. Hamlet has noticed a trend in the last few years of noblemen losing their riches and becoming almost as poor in the peasants. It's unclear whether he means this in a literal sense (as in financial distress) or a spiritual sense (as in being morally and emotionally bankrupt). Either way, the age feels "picked" because all of the goodness and wealth seems to have been taken out of Denmark.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  29. A "kibe" is a sore on the heel of the foot, where an unbroken-in shoe would rub the skin raw. For a peasant to "gall" or make this kibe worse by agitating the sore, he'd have to be right on the courtier's heels or, in other words, coming up behind him in terms of wealth and social class. This seems unacceptable to Hamlet, and he laments as such to Horatio to emphasize the First Clown's insolence.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  30. The idiom "to speak by the card" means to speak with an authority based on facts and information, not just puns and innuendos. Hamlet has grown tired of kidding around with the First Clown and wants to know whose grave this is. Note that he's just returned from his aborted trip to England and doesn't yet know of Ophelia's death.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  31. Hamlet puns on the word "lie," which means in this context both "to lie in" and to lie or tell lies in the grave. In the next lines, the First Clown either doesn't understand or deliberately misinterprets Hamlet's pun, which should regardless be taken as a threat, as in: "This will be your grave, because you just lied to me." Hamlet would normally just make fun of a man like this, but he's grown violent in his "madness" and isn't above killing this clown.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  32. The First Clown, despite being rude, brutish, and indelicate, makes an insightful joke here, stating that the grave he's digging is his own because he'll be working as a gravedigger until he dies. This use of gallows humor proves that while he's uneducated and absurd, he's not entirely unintelligent, though he will seem so in this conversation with Hamlet.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  33. In this context, "indentures" doesn't refer to indents or notches but rather to contracts drawn up between two parties, which are now null and void, because of one party's death. In the wake of his death, his possessions would've been split up; his land, fought over; his estate, in crisis, until his heirs could draw up contracts or "vouchers" of their own to preserve what was left. Death thus undoes a man's work and makes his life seem meaningless.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  34. Hamlet puns on the French "fin," meaning end, and the English "fine," meaning in this context either a fine he exacts on his tenants as a great landowner or his fine qualities as a man, which are no longer relevant now that he's dead. Hamlet has already made this point several times, and that he continues to do so implies that he's having a hard time wrapping his head around it (perhaps because he's afraid).

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  35. "Quiddities" and "quilets" are both subtleties in a lawyer's argument, whereas his "tenures" would be his various positions and his "tricks" the ones he uses in court in order to win his cases. These five things encompass the whole of a lawyer's work and, by extension, his self, but have been stripped of him in death. Hamlet sees this loss of self as a great tragedy, and may be thinking specifically of his father and Ophelia in this passage.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  36. "Loggets" was a game played in England where players threw pieces of wood at a stake driven into the ground. It's anachronistic of Hamlet to refer to this game, because he wasn't likely to have played it, but Shakespeare uses it to emphasize that the bones of nobility aren't treated any better than those with lesser breeding or social station. Hamlet's probably thinking of his own death and shuddering to think what will happen to his body when he dies.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  37. Shakespeare's use of the conjunction "and" indicates that Hamlet has picked up another skull, which he assumes to be a woman's, and which appears to have a worm inside it. The skull itself is "chapless" (has lost its jaw) and has been knocked on the head ("mazard") by a spade or shovel belonging to an officer of the parish ("sexton"). This is all to say that the bones of a noblewoman lose some of their grace once they're buried.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  38. In this context, "to beg it" doesn't mean to beg from or beg of or for but rather to beg pardon of, or to ask forgiveness from Lord Such-a-one's horse. That the Lord praises the horse instead of begging its pardon suggests that he rode it much too harshly, and that even though it performed well he shouldn't have done so in the first place.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  39. Notice that Hamlet calls the First Clown an "ass" mere lines after the First Clown called the Second Clown the same thing. Thus, we can see the hierarchy inherent in the play: nobles, then goodmen, then the supposedly less intelligent rank of men who work for or with the goodmen without themselves being considered of that class. This makes Hamlet's opinion of the First Clown the final opinion.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  40. In the Bible, Cain killed his brother Abel because he was jealous that God preferred Abel's offering over his. Cain thus became the first murderer, according to Christian mythology, and an often reviled figure. That the First Clown "jowls" or dashes the skull against the grounds underscores both the carelessness with which he works and the gruesome nature of the job.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  41. Hamlet speaks both generally and personally: people who don't work approach jobs like grave digging very seriously, whereas people who actually have those jobs take it in stride and don't see any reason not to sing while they're working. Hamlet himself, we know, has this "daintier" sense, having spent so much time at Wittenberg. Whether he's happy about this, however, remains unclear.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  42. Though its exact meaning has been lost over time, "Yaughan" likely refers to a nearby inn or innkeeper from whom the Second Clown can procure the First Clown a "stoup" (a bucket, or perhaps a large jar) of alcohol. We can see from this exchange that the First Clown isn't just the first to speak but also higher in rank, making the Second Clown a helper or lackey.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  43. A stupid donkey ("dull ass") won't move any faster when you beat it in the way the Second Clown racks or beats (cudgels) his own brain to find the answer to the First Clown's question. The First Clown has, in effect, called the Second Clown a donkey. What's worse, this isn't the first time he's denigrated the Second Clown. It's clear that these men don't have a healthy working relationship.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  44. To "unyoke" means to relieve one's self of one's yoke or burden. In the context of this scene, that burden means his shovels and digging tools, with which the Second Clown will help dig Ophelia's grave. Shakespeare uses this command like stage direction to inform the Second Clown and the audience alike of where Ophelia will be buried.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  45. In this context, "mass" is an abbreviation of the phrase "by the mass," an oath that suggests the speaker's ignorance. The Second Clown thought he'd found the right answer to the question, but lost it at the last second, embarrassing himself in front of the First Clown. Throughout this conversation, he's proven himself to be the wittier and more gullible of the two clowns, which accounts for his inability to counter the First Clown's faulty logic.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  46. In its first use, the phrase "does well" means "a good answer," which, though expectedly witty, isn't correct. In its second appearance, "does well" means "is successful," which for a gallows means to be often used. Finally, "does well" means to give someone who does ill what they deserve, or to bring them to justice. The First Clown alters the meaning like this to make the Second Clown feel bad about his joke, which reflects poorly on his character.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  47. The right to "bear arms" means the right to carry a weapon. The First Clown uses this phrase to mean that Adam was the first man to have arms, but the Second Clown understandably interprets this to mean that Adam carried weapons, which of course he never did. Shakespeare uses this comedic understanding to lighten the mood after Ophelia's death.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  48. Adam from the Genesis story in the Bible. God appointed Adam the caretaker of the Garden of Eden, where he was to oversee the plants and animals, not unlike the gardeners and ditchers of which the First Clown speaks. The First Clown calls him a "gentleman," meaning a good or godly person, not a noble, as the Second Clown interprets it.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  49. The First Clown seems to be using the word "countenance" to mean bearing or manner rather than facial expression or look (as it's most commonly used). Thus, this line reads that it's a pity that great folk or nobles carry themselves like people who choose to commit suicide, or that they're more inclined to commit suicide than the working class. This is, of course, just a clown's theory, and not sociologically sound by modern standards.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  50. Notice how the First Clown prevaricates here: in his mind, someone who's considering suicide will hesitate, thinking, "Will I? Won't I?" in much the same way that Hamlet asked, "To be, or not to be?" Thus we see the act of suicide aligned with Hamlet and not with Ophelia, who never asked the question of whether or not to commit suicide; she simply drowned, leaving us to decipher her intentions.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  51. "Goodman" is a title or form of address for a man of the working class, such as a "delver" (traditionally a tiller of the ground, but in this case a gravedigger). The Second Clown uses this form of address to show respect for the First Clown before he contradicts him, pointing out the fallacies in his argument. Unfortunately, the Second Clown will soon allow himself to be taken in by the argument, proving that he's a big a clown as the First.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  52. The First Clown butchers "ergo" by pronouncing it "argal." He's trying to examine Ophelia's death logically, stating that she drowned herself wittingly (or in her right mind). To him, an act such as suicide requires three things to have been done wittingly: to act, to do, and to perform. Note that these all essentially have the same meaning, and that the First Clown's argument isn't philosophically sound. Ergo, he's a clown.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  53. A butchered version of the Spanish "se defendendo," meaning "in self-defense." The First Clown insists that Ophelia drowned herself, but that it had to have been in self-defense. It's unclear from whom she would've been defending herself, but the First Clown appears to know enough to suspect that Ophelia was in danger simply by virtue of staying in the castle.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  54. Shakespeare appears to have been the first person to use the word "crowner" to mean "coroner," or someone who examines bodies for the cause of death. This exchange is especially important, because it establishes that (for the purposes of the burial) the "crowner" and, by extension, the royal court, have deemed Ophelia death an accident and not a suicide. Had it been suicide, a sin, she wouldn't have been allowed a Christian burial.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  55. What does Hamlet mean when he says this to Horatio: "No, faith, not a jot"?

    — Karen P.L. Hardison
  56. Hamlet deliberately antagonizes Laertes by addressing him as if he were a small, petulant child. He asks, "Would it weep? would it fight?" the way a bully asks, "Are you going to cry, little baby?" Recall that he has seen Laertes by Ophelia's grave, clutching his sister's body, and has likely seen him crying. These questions then become especially insulting because they're spoken over Ophelia's grave.

    — William Delaney
  57. Ophelia will lie in her last home at the sound of the church bell, which traditionally only rang for the godly people given a proper Christian burial. If they were able to say with certainty that Ophelia had killed herself, she wouldn't be allowed this privilege, but since they can't be sure, the bell will ring for her, anyway, and God will decide what to do with her soul.

    — Karen P.L. Hardison
  58. Some of the most iconic lines in the play. When we think of Hamlet, we tend to think of him holding up Yorick's skull, musing on life and death. It's grim to see Hamlet address his old playfellow this way, and Shakespeare may be using Yorick's skull to imply that the First Clown will meet the same fate. If the First Clown notice his similarity to poor Yorick, he doesn't say so.

    — Noelle Thompson
  59. Claudius intends to remain at Ophelia's grave for a while, like a stone statue installed as a permanent memorial. In the next line, we learn that he only intends to stay an hour, but for a king this exaggerated form of mourning would've been enough, even at an hour, to make up for the funeral service being so meager and ignominious. He may appear to be kind in this thought, but likely he's staying to plot further against Hamlet.

    — William Delaney
  60. Hamlet indulges in hyperbole, stating that Laertes' love for Ophelia is no match for his. Hamlet has been repressing this love for so long, focusing so intently on avenging his father's death, that he can't hold his love in any longer now that Ophelia's dead. Being unaccustomed to expressing his emotions this way, he does so in an over the top way that's out of character for him.

    — William Delaney
  61. This makes Hamlet thirty years old. The First Clown says he became sexton thirty years before, on "that day [their] last king overcame Fortinbras," which he's already established to be "the very day that young Hamlet was born." Thus, we can assume that Hamlet is thirty years old, which is certainly old enough to take the throne and not be considered a child or a youth.

    — William Delaney