Let me see.

In almost every production I’ve ever seen, Hamlet reaches for the skull and takes it, as if it were an apple or a book. Certainly, most editions feature a stage direction that suggests he should take the skull. And if you want to get the iconic image of this play, you are going to have to put that skull in Hamlet’s hands.
But he doesn’t say, “Give it to me.”
He says “Let me see.”
And he might not so eagerly seize hold of the skull of someone he once knew. What if he just looked at it in the gravedigger’s hands at first?
What if there were an evolution of comfort with it? The culmination of which led to the “smelling so” bit.
I do think I may have seen a production or two which the gravedigger tosses the skull to Hamlet giving him no time to decide to take it.

And the dumb joke maker in me wants the clown to say, “Look with your eyes not with your hands!”

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