Symbolism In Hamlet

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In the play, the main character Hamlet often is found discussing death. A vast majority of the characters in this play are no longer alive by the end of the last act. The idea of death and dying is one of the most prominent themes found in Hamlet. Mortality and the unpredictableness of death is questioned frequently on numerous occasions. A skull’s most common symbolic use is that of both death and one’s undeniable fatality. The skull in the graveyard is a known symbol used by Shakespeare. In the fourth act, Hamlet is shown the skull of his old jester, Yorrick, saying, “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy...Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your flashes of merriment that were wont…show more content…
Ophelia, in her mad state, begins to hand out invisible flowers to those around her. While talking to the king, queen, and her brother Laertes, Ophelia announces, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts...There’s fennel for you, and columbines. There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me. We may call it ‘herb of grace’ o' Sundays. Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference…” (4.5, 151-154). Ophelia gives an imaginary rosemary flower and a few pansies to Laertes. Rosemary is commonly known to signify remembrance and fidelity. Ophelia hands Laertes a rosemary flower to give him a hint on what has been happening in her life as well. She had given pansies to him to recall their childhood together because they are known to signify unity, and sometimes thoughts or memories. She gives a rue flower to both herself and Gertrude. Rue flowers are known to symbolize adultery, everlasting suffering, and sorrow. Ophelia gave one rue flower to herself, because throughout the play she was suffering from her loss of Hamlet’s affections toward her. Additionally, Ophelia gave Gertrude a rue flower because of the queen’s recent loss. The rue is also used to make a snide and unspoken remark of Gertrude’s incestuous marriage with her
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