top of page
  • Kash V

Jester of the Graveyard: A Character Sketch from 'Hamlet'

The first gravedigger is a minor but remarkable character introduced in Act 5 of ‘Hamlet’, who provides a philosophical perspective about life and death in the play.

As a worker responsible for digging graves, the gravedigger’s profession places him at the intersection between life and death, both literally and figuratively. But despite his seemingly ordinary employment, he appears to possess a sharp wit and a keen sense of observation. His conversations with the second gravedigger and Hamlet are proof of this.

During the conversations, the gravedigger adds a sense of comic relief to the play’s intense themes through his humorous wordplay and helps reveal deeper truths about the concepts in the play. He also makes Hamlet question his assumptions through clever responses about the graves he is digging.

His contemplative remarks about how long it takes for a body to decay in different situations reflect a down-to-earth attitude towards the cycle of life, serving as a reminder about the fleeting nature of human existence. The scene also introduces a contrast between the triviality of daily concerns and consequential matters of death, highlighting the absurdity of human pursuits in the face of morality.

The gravedigger gives the readers a respite from the main plot’s intense tragedy and revenge, thus encouraging them to reflect on the larger existential themes presented throughout the play.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page