By Marc C. Connor Ph.D., Washington and Lee University

The fifth act the Hamlet is a true manifestation the a religious theme. The is where the religious beliefs are at their greatest levels the expression. Check out on come know more about exactly how Hamlet accepts his fate.

You are watching: Grave digger scene in hamlet significance

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Hamlet ultimately accepts his fate after the graveyard scene. (Image: David Hughes/Shutterstock)

The definition of the Graveyard and also the Gravedigger

Death and the immortality haunt the young prince Hamlet from the beginning of the play: indigenous “to be or not to be” until the end. In the graveyard, he encounters the material manifestation that death: the decaying body of the dead. V the playful exchange with the gravedigger, they cover most of the crucial elements of the play.

Here the many dark themes the the play are lugged to irradiate by “comic-relief”. In this funny scene, the gravedigger gift himself as the only character who deserve to be together witty as Hamlet. While the scene is insightful and grim, the tragedy is carried to perfection through the comic-relief scenes.


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Hamlet incorrectly stabs Polonius. (Image: Coke Smyth/CC BY-SA 4.0/Public domain)

The gravedigger displayed his razor-sharp wit through the answer he offers to Hamlet’s questions. For example, once Hamlet asks, “Whose tomb is it?”, that answers, “It’s mine” as he is the one who is digging it. The dig is neither for a man nor because that a woman, but for a human being who to be a woman, yet now she is dead. The scene is concurrently funny and sad together it mirrors how fatality strips anyone of the labels of identity, even the many straightforward ones, prefer man and woman. The great question of identification at the start of the pat is brought back: Who’s there?

Then, Hamlet asks a inquiry that regards the material fate the a male in the afterlife. He asks,”How long will a body require to decay?” In response, the gravedigger exhumes a skull that belongs come Yorick, the old jester for King Hamlet. Learning him as soon as he to be a child, Hamlet looks at the skull in the eye sockets and also shouts his well known “Alas, poor Yorick” speech.

This decided quickly transforms from psychic a happy childhood to the last encounter through the grim fact of death.

This is a transcript indigenous the video collection How come Read and Understand Shakespeare. watch it now, on Wondrium.

Religious disagreements in the Graveyard Scene

This scene is likewise approachable v the device of theological arguments. The template of figure versus reality runs through the whole speech. It is a reality that one deserve to cover increase the flesh v all type of appearance, yet it is fatality that ultimately transforms everyone’s appearance.


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The skull the Yorick highlights the layout of appearance matches reality. (Image: Eugène Delacroix/Public domain)

And then, Hamlet realizes the the grave the is gift dug belongs to his beloved, Ophelia. He therefore sees one more loved one buried in the ground. But after he faces and also expresses the sorrow and shock, he ultimately seems to it is in at tranquility with Ophelia’s loss and all other losses.

This moment marks the start of Hamlet’s acceptance of his fate. This quiet is demonstrated in his last duel v Laertes.

Horatio asks him come reconsider the fight, yet Hamlet doesn’t accept: “Not a whit. Us defy augury. Over there is unique providence in the autumn of sparrow. If it it is in now, ’tis not to come; if the be no to come, it will be now; if that be no now, yet it will come. The readiness is all. Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows aught, what is’t to leave betimes? let be.”

Learn much more about the women of Hamlet.

A Pivotal point in Hamlet’s Fate

This speech is an especially interesting together it mirrors a change of personality in Hamlet. While as soon as he was really anxious come know about the afterlife, currently he defies augury, the is looking right into the future. In the past, he seemed to be indecisive and also not prepared to take it action, however now he claims that readiness is all. And also “to it is in or no to be” has actually now turned into “let that be”.

This last peace has confused critics because that centuries. Yet it deserve to be explained through the spiritual tool. He offers in to fate and the id that the cosmos is ultimately good. It can sound absurdly general and also sentimental come someone like Hamlet, yet it is the most suitable worldview in the totality play.

Horatio’s prayer, while that is stop Hamlet’s body, is one of the most touching benedictions in the totality literature: “Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, / and also flights of angels song thee come thy rest.” favor Horatio, no one knows wherein Hamlet goes after his fatality – heaven, hell, or purgatory. However most readers, prefer Horatio, hope he goes to heaven. At the finish of the play, Hamlet is totally free of every doctrines and also embraces his fate after ~ death.

However, Hamlet did want his story to be told by Horatio: “In this harsh human being draw your breath in pain / come tell my story.” This way, he is immortalized in eternity together the most remarkable personality in western literature.

Learn an ext about the interpretive devices for understanding the theatre by Shakespeare.

Common Questions around Hamlet’s Fate explained by spiritual Arguments


Q: Why is the gravedigger step in Hamlet important?

The gravedigger scene is important in Hamlet since it both to represent comic-relief and tragedy. It is in this scene that Hamlet accepts his mortality and fate.


Q: What is the significance of Ophelia’s death?

Ophelia’s death is important due to the fact that it is the last loss that a loved one that Hamlet sees. He finally involves peace through these losses and accepts the reality of life.


Q: What wake up at the end of Hamlet?

At the end, Hamlet undergoes a adjust of character, highlighted through acceptance and resignation. He wanted to watch what would take place in the afterlife, however he eventually rejects looking right into the future.

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Q: What is the point of Yorick’s skull?

Yorick’s skull in Hamlet is the manifestation that the inevitability the death. It additionally shows the spiritual theme of figure versus truth in the play. Death finally discover the truth, no matter how much one conceals it v appearance.


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