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Hamlet

William Shakespeare

Critical Essays Yorick's Skull as a Major Symbol

Throughout the play, Hamlet muses on and toys with the idea of death. His famous fourth soliloquy's opening lines, "To be, or not to be" shows Hamlet thinking about suicide. His turning point of realization comes in the graveyard scene. Hamlet looks at the skull and remembers the man he was fond of, the court jester Yorick. In his musings, Hamlet realizes that death eliminates the differences between people. The hierarchical structure of society is illusory and ultimately crumbles into dust, just like the bones of those long gone.