Whose skull does the prince Hamlet discover in the churchyard?

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In act 5, scene 1, Hamlet watches as two gravediggers carelessly toss skulls to the side while they are digging Ophelia's grave, and he muses about the identity of the skulls. Hamlet eventually asks the men whose grave they are digging, and they proceed to engage in an amusing...

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In act 5, scene 1, Hamlet watches as two gravediggers carelessly toss skulls to the side while they are digging Ophelia's grave, and he muses about the identity of the skulls. Hamlet eventually asks the men whose grave they are digging, and they proceed to engage in an amusing conversation. After discussing how long it takes for a person's flesh to rot away, Hamlet points to a random skull and asks the gravediggers whose skull he is looking at. One of the gravediggers informs Hamlet that he is looking at the skull of Yorick, who was the king's former court jester. Hamlet then holds Yorick's skull in his hands and tells Horatio that he used to know Yorick when he was a child. Hamlet goes on to reminisce about the pleasant times he spent with Yorick and becomes overwhelmed by the somber reality of death. Hamlet proceeds to contemplate the nature of death and comments on how great men, such as Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, have been reduced to dust. Hamlet's thoughts on death set the stage for the series of deaths that will occur in the final scene of the play.

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In act 5, scene 1 of Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet, Hamlet and Horatio walk into a churchyard where two gravediggers (sometimes called Clowns in the stage directions) have been gossiping about Ophelia's death and her upcoming burial. One of the gravediggers starts singing and tossing skulls he finds up into the air as he digs, which Hamlet obviously finds to be pretty disrespectful.

After some back and forth with this gravedigger, Hamlet eventually finds out that one of the skulls belonged to Yorick, a man who was the king's jester when Hamlet was a child. In this moment, Hamlet truly faces the reality of what comes after death. As he holds the skull of a man he once knew and loved, he thinks of the fact that even renowned men like Alexander the Great "returneth to dust" after they die and comes to the realization that in death everyone is equal and no one is special.

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