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October 23, 2005

Yorick Eternalized

Shakespeare, Hamlet (Acts 3-5) -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

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 hung those
lips that I have kiss'd 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 chap-fallen?

I've always thought short speech interesting. I wonder what metaphorical implications, if any, Hamlet is making here. He sees how Yorick's world has changed for the bleaker, and I think he is comparing it to his own. Hamlet's own fervor for life seems to have gone. He is obsessed with his mission of vengeance, and looking into the past, he denies himeself even happy memories- current events have voided their value to him.

Posted by DavidDenninger at October 23, 2005 04:48 PM


Yes, what will he has for life is already ebbing at this point. And of course we are with him when he learns of Ophelia's death, a scene that most actors play as if Hamlet is really being serious when he says he loved Ophelia. (It wouldn't make much dramatic sense to imagine that Hamlet is mad on that point, though Latertes is better at being the hot-headed and impulsive man of action than Hamlet could ever be.)

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at October 23, 2005 11:14 PM

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