Hamlet Literary Perspecitve Essays - Shakespearean Criticism
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hamlet literary perspecitve essays - shakespearean criticismSOURCE: “‘To what base uses we may return’: Class and Mortality in Hamlet (5.1),” in Hamlet Studies, Vol. 9, Nos. 1 and 2, Summer and Winter, 1987, pp. 78-85. [In the essay below, Cohen assesses the encounter between Hamlet and the gravedigger, reading it as a debate about whether death levels all social and economic distinctions.] Critics are in general agreement that the first scene of Hamlet, Act 5, derives its power from an almost exclusive concentration on death.1 But none of the critics, so far as I know, points out that class considerations are hardly less important than death as the scene's subject matter, and that there are really two competing subtexts in the scene, one that argues that death is the ultimate leveller of all class distinctions, another that argues, with almost equal persuasiveness, that class distinctions continue even after death.