Explain how the gravediggers' own history, together with the discovery of Yorick’s skull, gives us the only clue to Hamlet’s age.

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The gravedigger in act 5, scene 1, knew Yorick, the jester, well, and he remembers the jester clearly because Yorick once humiliated him by pouring a vessel of wine on the gravedigger's head. It is because the gravedigger knew Yorick, and disliked him so much as to remember him clearly,...

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The gravedigger in act 5, scene 1, knew Yorick, the jester, well, and he remembers the jester clearly because Yorick once humiliated him by pouring a vessel of wine on the gravedigger's head. It is because the gravedigger knew Yorick, and disliked him so much as to remember him clearly, that he knows that it has been twenty-three years since Yorick died. Thus, when he digs up Yorick's skull, he is able to comment on how it has been this long (see lines 178–179). He identifies the skull as belonging to Yorick, as he likely buried the jester's body all those years ago, and he shares this information with Hamlet. If Yorick died twenty- three years before this scene takes place, and Hamlet can remember playing with the jester and getting horseback rides from him and so on, then Hamlet must have been, at least, five or six years old when Yorick died for him to remember Yorick with such clarity. If Hamlet was at least five or six when Yorick died, and it has been twenty-three years since then, then Hamlet has to be approximately twenty-eight or twenty-nine years old now. This always surprises students because he seems so much younger and is attending college, something we tend to associate with people who are in their early twenties at the latest.

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