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Shakespeare’s Hamlet: A Discussion, Part VI (Act 5)

This final act sees action. It opens with the gravediggers talking about Ophelia and if she deserves a Christian burial due to the suspicion surrounding her death. Hamlet enters the graveyard and muses that all intelligence, wit, and action all comes to death, all comes to nothing. The universe is an accident. Life has no meaning. So why do anything in life if it all ends in the nothingness of death? Hamlet is exposing the nihilism of the modern age. Hamlet has sunk to his lowest. A funeral procession enters the graveyard. Hamlet learns that Ophelia has died. He is moved. Something stirs in him. He begins to come to his senses. He loved her. Remember too that Ophelia is the barometer of the mental state of Hamlet. Her innocence speaks to him even from the grave. Hamlet now has full charge of his senses; he knows what he must do. He must clean up the corruption in the court of Denmark. He must kill King Claudius who has killed his father, made a whore of his mother and taken his rightful crown from him. Hamlet is about to become a man of action. His life now has meaning.

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