Hamlet Act 5

Act together, scene 1 – two gravediggers discuss the brutal suicide cases and other things. Their ignorance of proper legal terminology makes their comments laughable. Hamlet and Horatio enter the churchyard and observe one of the gravedigger. Hamlet reflects on life and death. A mourning process approaches. Hamlet soon realises that he is observing Ophelia’s funeral. Laertes publicly curses Hamlet, who emerges from hiding, struggles with Laertes, and declares his love for Ophelia. After Hamlet’so departure with Horatio, Claudius reminds Laertes that he will soon have whisky opportunity to deal with Hamlet.Hamlet’s constant brooding about death and humanity comes to a (grotesque) head in the infamous graveyard scene, where Hamlet holds up the unearthed skull of Yorick, a court jester Hamlet knew and loved as a young boy. The skull itself is a physical reminder of the finality of death. After all of Hamlet’s brooding and philosophical contemplation of mortality, Hamlet literally looks death directly in the face right here.As you can probably guess, it’s a turning point for Hamlet. He thinks about the commonness of death and the vanity of life. He not only remembers Yorick, a mere jester, but also considers what’s become of the body that belonged to Alexander the Great. Both men, concludes Hamlet, meet the same end and “returneth into dust” (5.1.217). Morbid? Sure. But it also seems like a new, more mature acceptance of a common human fate. He may be contemplative, but he’s not melodramatically contemplating suicide or anything. Hamlet questions the singing gravedigger’s lack of respect for doing so to which Horatio responds, “Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness”. In other words, when one is used to seeing and dealing with death, he becomes immune and desensitised by it representing Hamlet’s apparent oblivion to his latest killing (of Polonius) and certainly Claudius’ character who is not uneasy about committing murder as Laertes is about to find out. Hamlet shows that he has double-standards here when he speaks in disgust of Ophelia’s burial yet previously, his emotionless speech about all humans being mere food for worms is contraddicts “Did these bones cost no more the breeding, but to play at loggers with them? Mine ache to think on’t”. Here, Hamlet cannot bear to think about Ophelia’s body being eaten by worms. Despite all, love still exists among damaged and murderous characters. The gravedigger tell Hamlet how long a corpse will stay in the ground before he rots, to which the gravedigger replies “if he be not rotten before he died…”. Suggesting that a man is nothing is he is rotten / evil while alive. Hamlet begins to worry about this. Hamlet once again shows that he knows he will suffer the consequences of his actions while Claudius never even considers this. Does this make Hamlet more justified in his actions than Claudius?
Act 5 scene 2 -Hamlet tells Horatio of his adventures at sea, where he discovered that his uncle’s commission to the King of England contained orders for his immediate execution. Hamlet changed these orders, substituting the names of R & G for his own. Osric, a foppish courtier who uses flamboyant language arrives, bringing details of the proposed fencing match between H & L. Hamlet take up the challenge.Hamlet wins the first two bouts and the third is a draw. Laertes resorts to foul play, attacks Hamlet off-guard and and wounds him with the poisoned rapier. Hamlet wounds Laertes. Gertrude drinks from Hamlet’s poisoned cup. They dying Laertes reveals the truth about Claudius. Hamlet stabs his uncle with the poisoned rapier. Laertes and Hamlet exchange forgiveness. Hamlet prevents Horatio from taking his own life. With his dying breath, Hamlet nominates Fortinbras as King of Denmark. Fortinbras arrives and claims the throne. Horatio to Fortinbras after everyone has died, “So shall you hear Of carnal d, bloody and unnatural acts, Of accidental judgements”. Only is there hope of a just society for the future of Denmark when Horatio lives to tell the truth to the next king. All of the deaths caused by greed were futile as Laertes and Hamlet exchange words of forgiveness and mutual understanding, making the play a truly tragic one. Hamlet’s dying words to Claudius that he unite in death with Gertrude is bizarre and makes his attempts throughout the play of trying to convince his mother of the injustice of incestuous marriage completely futile. It is only in his dying moments that Hamlet accepts and gives in to his mother’s marriage to his uncle, “Drink off this potion. Is thy union here? Follow my mother”.
Gertrude to Hamlet, “Come, let me wipe thy face”. What is your impression of Gertrude in this last scene.Is it a coincidence that every major character dies by poisoning? Hamlet “Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fightingThat would not let me sleep. Methought I layWorse than the mutines in the bilboes. Rashly—And praised be rashness for it: let us knowOur indiscretion sometimes serves us wellWhen our deep plots do pall, and that should teach usThere’s a divinity that shapes our ends,Rough-hew them how we will—”Here Hamlet finally makes sense of his actions and state of mind throughout the play. The above translates to : There was a kind of war in my brain that wouldn’t let me sleep. It was worse than being a captive in chains. Sometimes it’s good to be rash—sometimes it works out well to act impulsively when our careful plans lose steam. This should show us that there’s a God in heaven who’s always guiding us in the right direction, however often we screw up—”
Hamlet accepts his world and we discover a different man. He has existed outside of the corrupt system, and yet, he has been unable to resist being drawn in. The Ghost sealed Hamlet’s fate when he challenged him to “remember me.” In this final scene, the maelstrom finally catches Hamlet stripped of his words, and at the mercy of his “bare bodkin.” He maneuvered around the world of “seems” and “acts” and “plays” as long as he could, and tried to beat this world by using its own tactics. He feigned madness and betrayed the woman he ostensibly loves, her father, and his school chums. He committed three cold-blooded murders and sent Ophelia to her death. He had thought he towered above such dirty fighting, but found himself swept into it. He must now face the inevitable. As Mack says, Hamlet has finally “learned, and accepted, the boundaries in which human action, human judgment, are enclosed.”We recognize Hamlet’s change in the first part of the scene when he explains to Horatio with complete dismissal how he sent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths. The calculating premeditation of his actions is a complete reversal of the Hamlet we have come to know.
Shakespeare juxtaposes Osric’s entrance against Hamlet’s resolve to act. As the representative of Claudius’ court, Osric embodies all that is rotten in the state of Denmark. According to Hamlet, Osric is one of the many superficial fashionable people overrunning Denmark in these frivolous times. This ostentation is the canker of Denmark’s nature, and Hamlet is sure that he is ready to obliterate it. Osric, about whom Hamlet says, ” ’tis a vice to know him,” represents the evil Hamlet spoke of in Act II when he observed the court in drunken revel. Speaking about the party going on is the kind that causes the rest of the world to see Denmark as a country of drunken louts. Hamlet presumes it his duty to obliterate the King’s evil, and that includes Osric.