Symbol - Yorick's Skull
Yorick's Skull serves as a symbol of death in all its entirety but more so as a physical relic left by the deceased as an omen of what’s to come. When Hamlet takes the skull and stares directly at the sight, he is symbolically staring into death itself and contemplates its connotations. He speaks to the skull about being Old King Hamlet’s former jester, and by remembering Yorick in life he comes to realize the inevitability of death and inescapable disintegration of one’s body. "Get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor she must come" (V.i.178–179) - No one can avoid death. "Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft," (V.i.174–175) – Here Hamlet shows interest in the bodily decomposition of deaths by staring at lips that he once knew to have flesh. Hamlet is likewise fascinated by the equalizing, impartial, and absolute effect of death that acts on both the greatest of men and peasants. “Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay./ Might stop a hole to keep the wind away” (V.i.193-194). Hamlet notes that despite all the power that these men had in life (he references Alexander the Great), their demise meets no exception since their bodies will rot, only to be recycled into the earth as generations before them. It is by starring into Yorick’s skull and reflecting on death is Hamlet finally able to take a more mature outlook on death. He no longer truly fears death but sees it as a natural inevitability that need not be sped (shows no suicidal tendencies). This revelation marks a character evolution for Hamlet as we see him in this scene as mature and rational; he exemplifies a state of mind that is calm and with purpose. He shows no recklessness, fearlessness, or pittance but an objective resolve of what he knows is to come and what he must do (“Let be”).