Can someone please summarize Act 5 scene I in one sentence for me, please? Act 5, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's Hamlet

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The grisly jokes of the clowns in this somber scene may appear incongruous, but they provide the counterbalance to the tragedy of Ophelia's death.  Intermixed with the macabre humor and tragic profundity of death are Hamlet's fond recollections of Yorick, who was the court jester when Hamlet was a boy. With the setting as the graveyard, the theme of life that meets its eventual death is clearly suggested.  And, as a prelude to their deadly duel in the next scene, Laertes and Hamlet engage in a physical confrontation, foreshadowing their forthcoming deaths.

Furthermore, the coincidence of the former King Hamlet’s victory over old Fortinbras on this day of life and death lends a nobility to Hamlet by right of his royal birth, a nobility he gains as his sense of self finally emerges from all his self-debates. Thus, Hamlet announces,

"This is I, Hamlet the Dane....

Yet have I in me something dangerous (5.1.227-232)

While it is rather difficult to express all that occurs in this scene in one sentence, you may wish to point to the fact that Act V, Scene 1 begins with death motifs, and, it is from his confrontations with Laertes in the grave and his remembrances of Yorick that Hamlet resurrects his noble nature as "Hamlet the Dane," the prince who has loved the fair Ophelia, the prince who will soon avenge his father's death as he is finally able to merge his personal feeling with the political.



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