List iconHamlet:
Act 5, scene 1
List icon

Act 5, scene 1



Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Events before the start of Hamlet set the stage for tragedy. When the king of Denmark, Prince Hamlet’s father, suddenly dies, Hamlet’s…

Act 1, scene 1

On the guards’ platform at Elsinore, Horatio waits with Barnardo and Marcellus to question a ghost that has twice before…

Act 1, scene 2

In an audience chamber in Elsinore, Claudius, the new king of Denmark, holds court. After thanking his courtiers for their…

Act 1, scene 3

In Polonius’s chambers, Laertes says good-bye to his sister, Ophelia, and tells her not to trust Hamlet’s promises of love….

Act 1, scene 4

While Claudius drinks away the night, Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus are visited by the Ghost. It signals to Hamlet. Hamlet’s…

Act 1, scene 5

The Ghost tells Hamlet a tale of horror. Saying that he is the spirit of Hamlet’s father, he demands that…

Act 2, scene 1

Polonius sends his servant Reynaldo to Paris to question Laertes’s acquaintances. Ophelia enters, deeply disturbed about a visit she has…

Act 2, scene 2

Claudius and Gertrude set Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two boyhood friends of Hamlet, to spy on him. When Hamlet himself enters,…

Act 3, scene 1

After Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report their failure to find the cause of Hamlet’s madness, Polonius places Ophelia where he and…

Act 3, scene 2

Hamlet gives direction to the actors and asks Horatio to help him observe Claudius’s reaction to the play. When the…

Act 3, scene 3

Claudius orders Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to take Hamlet to England. Polonius tells Claudius of his plans to spy on Hamlet’s…

Act 3, scene 4

In Gertrude’s room, Polonius hides behind a tapestry. Hamlet’s entrance so alarms Gertrude that she cries out for help. Polonius…

Act 4, scene 1

Gertrude reports Polonius’s death to Claudius, who sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find Hamlet and recover the body.

Act 4, scene 2

Hamlet refuses to tell Rosencrantz and Guildenstern where he has put Polonius’s body.

Act 4, scene 3

Hamlet is brought to Claudius, who tells him that he is to leave immediately for England. Alone, Claudius reveals that…

Act 4, scene 4

Fortinbras and his army cross Hamlet’s path on their way to Poland. Hamlet finds in Fortinbras’s vigorous activity a model…

Act 4, scene 5

Reports reach Gertrude that Ophelia is mad. Ophelia enters singing about death and betrayal. After Ophelia has gone, Claudius agonizes…

Act 4, scene 6

Horatio is given a letter from Hamlet telling of the prince’s boarding of a pirate ship and his subsequent return…

Act 4, scene 7

Claudius gets a letter from Hamlet announcing the prince’s return. Claudius enlists Laertes’s willing help in devising another plot against…

Act 5, scene 1

Hamlet, returned from his journey, comes upon a gravedigger singing as he digs. Hamlet tries to find out who the…

Act 5, scene 2

In the hall of the castle, Hamlet tells Horatio how he discovered the king’s plot against him and how he…

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Scene 1
Enter Gravedigger and Another.

GRAVEDIGGER Is she to be buried in Christian burial,
 when she willfully seeks her own salvation?
OTHER I tell thee she is. Therefore make her grave
 straight. The crowner hath sat on her and finds it
5 Christian burial.
GRAVEDIGGER How can that be, unless she drowned
 herself in her own defense?
OTHER Why, ’tis found so.
GRAVEDIGGER It must be se offendendo; it cannot be
10 else. For here lies the point: if I drown myself
 wittingly, it argues an act, and an act hath three
 branches—it is to act, to do, to perform. Argal, she
 drowned herself wittingly.
OTHER Nay, but hear you, goodman delver—
GRAVEDIGGER 15Give me leave. Here lies the water;
 good. Here stands the man; good. If the man go to
 this water and 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
20 that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his
 own life.
OTHER But is this law?
GRAVEDIGGER Ay, marry, is ’t—crowner’s ’quest law.

ACT 5. SC. 1

OTHER Will you ha’ the truth on ’t? If this had not been
25 a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o’
 Christian burial.
GRAVEDIGGER Why, there thou sayst. And the more
 pity that great folk should have count’nance in this
 world to drown or hang themselves more than
30 their even-Christian. Come, my spade. There is no
 ancient gentlemen but gard’ners, ditchers, and
 grave-makers. They hold up Adam’s profession.
OTHER Was he a gentleman?
GRAVEDIGGER He was the first that ever bore arms.
OTHER 35Why, he had none.
GRAVEDIGGER What, art a heathen? How dost thou
 understand the scripture? The scripture says Adam
 digged. Could he dig without arms? I’ll put another
 question to thee. If thou answerest me not to the
40 purpose, confess thyself—
OTHER Go to!
GRAVEDIGGER What is he that builds stronger than
 either the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?
OTHER The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a
45 thousand tenants.
GRAVEDIGGER I like thy wit well, in good faith. The
 gallows does well. But how does it well? It does
 well to those that do ill. Now, thou dost ill to say the
 gallows is built stronger than the church. Argal, the
50 gallows may do well to thee. To ’t again, come.
OTHER “Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright,
 or a carpenter?”
GRAVEDIGGER Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.
OTHER Marry, now I can tell.
OTHER Mass, I cannot tell.

Enter Hamlet and Horatio afar off.

GRAVEDIGGER Cudgel thy brains no more about it,

ACT 5. SC. 1

 for your dull ass will not mend his pace with
 beating. And, when you are asked this question
60 next, say “a grave-maker.” The houses he makes
 lasts till doomsday. Go, get thee in, and fetch me a
 stoup of liquor.
The Other Man exits
and the Gravedigger digs and sings.

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

HAMLET Has this fellow no feeling of his business? He
 sings in grave-making.
HORATIO Custom hath made it in him a property of
70 easiness.
HAMLET ’Tis e’en so. The hand of little employment
 hath the daintier sense.
 But age with his stealing steps
 Hath clawed me in his clutch,
75 And hath shipped me into the land,
 As if I had never been such.

He digs 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
 ’twere Cain’s jawbone, that did the first murder!
80 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
85 morrow, sweet 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 went to beg it,
 might it not?
HORATIO Ay, my lord.

ACT 5. SC. 1

HAMLET 90Why, e’en so. And now my Lady Worm’s,
 chapless and knocked about the mazard with a
 sexton’s spade. Here’s fine revolution, an we had
 the trick to see ’t. Did these bones cost no more the
 breeding but to play at loggets with them? Mine
95 ache to think on ’t.
 A pickax 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.

He digs up more skulls.
HAMLET 100There’s another. Why may not that be the
 skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his
 quillities, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? Why
 does he suffer this mad knave now to knock him
 about the sconce with a dirty shovel and will not tell
105 him of his action of battery? 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
110 of fine dirt? Will his vouchers vouch him no more
 of his 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 th’ inheritor himself have no more, ha?
HORATIO 115Not a jot more, my lord.
HAMLET Is not parchment made of sheepskins?
HORATIO Ay, my lord, and of calves’ skins too.
HAMLET They are sheep and calves which seek out
 assurance in that. I will speak to this fellow.—
120 Whose grave’s this, sirrah?
Sings. O, a pit of clay for to be made
 For such a guest is meet.

ACT 5. SC. 1

HAMLET I think it be thine indeed, for thou liest in ’t.
GRAVEDIGGER 125You lie out on ’t, sir, and therefore ’tis
 not yours. For my part, I do not lie in ’t, yet it is
HAMLET Thou dost lie in ’t, to be in ’t and say it is thine.
 ’Tis for the dead, not for the quick; therefore thou
130 liest.
GRAVEDIGGER ’Tis a quick lie, sir; ’twill away again
 from me to you.
HAMLET What man dost thou dig it for?
GRAVEDIGGER For no man, sir.
HAMLET 135What woman then?
GRAVEDIGGER For none, neither.
HAMLET Who is to be buried in ’t?
GRAVEDIGGER One that was a woman, sir, but, rest
 her soul, she’s dead.
HAMLET 140How absolute the knave is! We must speak by
 the card, or equivocation will undo us. By the
 Lord, Horatio, this three years I have took note of
 it: the age is grown so picked that the toe of the
 peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he
145 galls his kibe.—How long hast thou been
GRAVEDIGGER Of all the days i’ th’ year, I came to ’t
 that day that our last King Hamlet overcame
HAMLET 150How long is that since?
GRAVEDIGGER Cannot you tell that? Every fool can
 tell that. It was that very day that young Hamlet
 was born—he that is mad, and sent into England.
HAMLET Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?
GRAVEDIGGER 155Why, because he was mad. He shall
 recover his wits there. Or if he do not, ’tis no great
 matter there.
GRAVEDIGGER ’Twill not be seen in him there. There
160 the men are as mad as he.

ACT 5. SC. 1

HAMLET How came he mad?
GRAVEDIGGER Very strangely, they say.
HAMLET How “strangely”?
GRAVEDIGGER Faith, e’en with losing his wits.
HAMLET 165Upon what ground?
GRAVEDIGGER Why, here in Denmark. I have been
 sexton here, man and boy, thirty years.
HAMLET How long will a man lie i’ th’ earth ere he rot?
GRAVEDIGGER Faith, if he be not rotten before he die
170 (as we have many pocky corses nowadays that will
 scarce hold the laying in), he will last you some
 eight year or nine year. A tanner will last you nine
HAMLET Why he more than another?
GRAVEDIGGER 175Why, sir, his hide is so tanned with his
 trade that he will keep out water a great while; and
 your water is a sore decayer of your whoreson dead
 body. Here’s a skull now hath lien you i’ th’ earth
 three-and-twenty years.
HAMLET 180Whose was it?
GRAVEDIGGER A whoreson mad fellow’s it was.
 Whose do you think it was?
HAMLET Nay, I know not.
GRAVEDIGGER A pestilence on him for a mad rogue!
185 He poured a flagon of Rhenish on my head once.
 This same skull, sir, was, sir, Yorick’s skull, the
 King’s jester.
HAMLET, taking the skull 190Let me see. Alas, poor
 Yorick! I knew him, Horatio—a fellow of infinite
 jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his
 back a thousand times, and now how abhorred in
 my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung
195 those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft.
 Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your

ACT 5. SC. 1

 songs? your flashes of merriment that were wont to
 set the table on a roar? Not one now to mock your
 own grinning? Quite chapfallen? Now get you to my
200 lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch
 thick, to this favor 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
205 fashion i’ th’ earth?
HORATIO E’en so.
HAMLET And smelt so? Pah!He puts the skull down.
HORATIO E’en so, my lord.
HAMLET To what base uses we may return, Horatio!
210 Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of
 Alexander till he find it stopping a bunghole?
HORATIO ’Twere to consider too curiously to consider
HAMLET No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither,
215 with modesty enough and likelihood to lead it, as
 thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander
 returneth to 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?
220 Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay,
 Might stop a hole to keep the wind away.
 O, that that earth which kept the world in awe
 Should patch a wall t’ expel the winter’s flaw!

Enter King, Queen, Laertes, Lords attendant, and the
corpse of Ophelia, with a Doctor of Divinity.

 But soft, but soft awhile! Here comes the King,
225 The Queen, the courtiers. Who is this they follow?
 And with such maimèd rites? This doth betoken
 The corse they follow did with desp’rate hand
 Fordo its own life. ’Twas of some estate.
 Couch we awhile and mark.They step aside.

ACT 5. SC. 1

LAERTES 230What ceremony else?
HAMLET That is Laertes, a very noble youth. Mark.
LAERTES What ceremony else?
 Her obsequies have been as far enlarged
 As we have warranty. Her death was doubtful,
235 And, but that great command o’ersways the order,
 She should in ground unsanctified been lodged
 Till the last trumpet. For charitable prayers
 Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown on
240 Yet here she is allowed her virgin crants,
 Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home
 Of bell and burial.
 Must there no more be done?
DOCTOR  No more be done.
245 We should profane the service of the dead
 To sing a requiem and such rest to her
 As to peace-parted souls.
LAERTES  Lay her i’ th’ earth,
 And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
250 May violets spring! I tell thee, churlish priest,
 A minist’ring angel shall my sister be
 When thou liest howling.
HAMLET, to Horatio  What, the fair Ophelia?
QUEEN Sweets to the sweet, farewell!
She scatters flowers.
255 I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet’s wife;
 I thought thy bride-bed to have decked, sweet maid,
 And not have strewed thy grave.
LAERTES  O, treble woe
 Fall ten times treble on that cursèd head
260 Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense
 Deprived thee of!—Hold off the earth awhile,
 Till I have caught her once more in mine arms.
Leaps in the grave.

ACT 5. SC. 1

 Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead,
 Till of this flat a mountain you have made
265 T’ o’ertop old Pelion or the skyish head
 Of blue Olympus.
HAMLET, advancing 
 What is he whose grief
 Bears such an emphasis, whose phrase of sorrow
 Conjures the wand’ring stars and makes them stand
270 Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I,
 Hamlet the Dane.
LAERTES, coming out of the grave 
 The devil take thy soul!
HAMLET Thou pray’st not well.They grapple.
 I prithee take thy fingers from my throat,
275 For though I am not splenitive and rash,
 Yet have I in me something dangerous,
 Which let thy wisdom fear. Hold off thy hand.
KING Pluck them asunder.
QUEEN Hamlet! Hamlet!
ALL 280Gentlemen!
HORATIO Good my lord, be quiet.
Hamlet and Laertes are separated.
 Why, I will fight with him upon this theme
 Until my eyelids will no longer wag!
QUEEN O my son, what theme?
285 I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers
 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 290’Swounds, show me what thou ’t do.
 Woo’t weep, woo’t fight, woo’t fast, woo’t tear
 Woo’t drink up eisel, eat a crocodile?

ACT 5. SC. 1

 I’ll do ’t. Dost thou come here to whine?
295 To outface me with leaping in her grave?
 Be buried quick with her, and so will I.
 And if thou prate of mountains, let them throw
 Millions of acres on us, till our ground,
 Singeing his pate against the burning zone,
300 Make Ossa like a wart. Nay, an thou ’lt mouth,
 I’ll rant as well as thou.
QUEEN  This is mere madness;
 And thus awhile the fit will work on him.
 Anon, as patient as the female dove
305 When that her golden couplets are disclosed,
 His silence will sit drooping.
HAMLET  Hear you, sir,
 What is the reason that you use me thus?
 I loved you ever. But it is no matter.
310 Let Hercules himself do what he may,
 The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.
Hamlet exits.
 I pray thee, good Horatio, wait upon him.
Horatio exits.
 To Laertes. Strengthen your patience in our last
 night’s speech.
315 We’ll put the matter to the present push.—
 Good Gertrude, set some watch over your son.—
 This grave shall have a living monument.
 An hour of quiet thereby shall we see.
 Till then in patience our proceeding be.
They exit.