Analysis of Hamlet; Act V, Scene I
This act expounds on the burial of Ophelia, the daughter of Polonius and sister to Laertes. After the murder of her father, Ophelia became overcome by grief. Consequently, she committed suicide by drowning herself. The gravediggers question the ethical legitimacy of suicidal death. Shakespeare uses this scene to reveal Hamlet’s mindset as well as foreshadow subsequent actions that take place at the end of the act. He shows Hamlet’s dark sense of humor and paranoia.
While Hamlet and Horatio watched the gravediggers at a distance, the latter engage in witty chit-chat. Hamlet appears to have a fascination with dead bodies through the way he analyses Yorick’s skull. The manifestation of His dark sense of humor surfaces in the manner he speculates about the occupation of the deceased, “Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now?” (Hamlet.5.1. 90–91). It also happens when he imagines that Alexander the Great’s decomposed body is part of the dust used to construct a wall. He appears appalled by the realization that all men, great and common alike, disintegrate after death and turn into dust.
When Hamlet realizes that the deceased is his beloved, Ophelia, he momentarily appears insane. It doesn’t help that he notices Ophelia’s brother, Laertes, in the grave embracing his sister. He is outraged and blinded by jealousy. It shows that Hamlet believed that Laertes and Ophelia had an abusive relationship. This notion is supported by his monologue when he tears Ophelia’s body from Laertes’ embrace (“forty thousand brothers / could not, with all their quantity of love, / make up my sum” (Hamlet.5.1. 254–256).It doesn’t help that Ophelia had rejected his advances when she was alive. In his state of paranoia and rage, the people present believe him to be mad.
Since the grief following the murder of her father by Prince Hamlet prompted Ophelia’s death, Laertes is determined to revenge his family’s demise. Subsequently, he asks Prince Hamlet to duel with him in the last scene ending in the death of both participants, Hamlet and Laertes.
In conclusion, Hamlet is not morally complete as his life centers on his self-conflict, paranoia, and unrelenting pain.
Shakespeare, William, and G R. Hibbard. Hamlet. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. Print: (Act V.I.5-310)