Is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt?

That is a whole lot of fine right there. That is FOUR repetitions of one word within one sentence. That is super much fun to say, too. This line is often cut due to its point being essentially made in previous lines – but this fine repetition is linguistically fun and fine, fine, fine, fine.

This fellow might be in’s time a great buyer of land, with his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers, his recoveries.

It is hard not to think of the Real Estate magnate in Chief when reading this line now, in 2017. It is this fellow who thought by his great buying of land and great manipulating of statutes and his great levying of fines and his great bankruptcies that he would great-ify the country of his birth.
And so we are seeing a great bankrupting of the nation. And he will take us all to our graves sooner than we might have gone otherwise.

It’s 2019 now. And all I can say to what I said in 2017 is same-sies, same-sies, same-sies.


The exclamation point is a curious choice here. I’d be more inclined to go with a question mark. As in Hum? Hmm? Or even a period. I’m not sure how you’d exclaim Hum!
– unless you’re trying to get someone to hum a tune
– Unless you were an SS Officer trying to cover the sounds of your crimes with the humming of your victims . In that case, Hum! makes a lot of sense.

Not so much.

Why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock him about the sconce with a dirty shovel, and will not tell him of his action of battery?

I suppose it really is the indignity of death Hamlet is pointing to here. Once you are bones, your bones might be batted about by any number of people with any number of motivations.
It makes me think, too, about Jos Houben’s show – The Art of Laughter and how so much of our laughter is related to a loss of dignity – either our own or someone’s else’s. Dignity drives our desires and its disruption drives our laughter.

Where be his quiddities now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures and his tricks?

I’m fairly certain that historical scholarship suggests that Shakespeare had several run-ins with lawyers. He was certainly not always on the right side of the law and I have to wonder exactly he suffered at the hands of lawyers that made him so specifically saucy about them. Quiddities and quillets may be made up words but there is a cutting specificity about them. Usually I’m not too convinced by things in the plays being related to Shakespeare’s life but this is an exception because Hamlet, as the Prince of Denmark, likely has not much had to deal with the quillets of lawyers. It is a moment that feels curiously outside the realm of the Danish court – which is another factor that makes me think it’s a personal matter that Shakespeare has with lawyers.

Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer?

The last year has given me so much appreciation for lawyers. In the past, I lumped them all into a sort of box of slimey and helpful. I sort of saw them as a necessary evil. But – watching the volunteer lawyers show up at JFK and work round the clock to release the people who were being refused entry into the country – well, I started to get it. To know that lawyers are fighting for us through the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU and numerous other organizations throughout the country, well, it is the only real comfort I find sometimes.
Lawyers are heroes, now.
Not all of them, of course. Some of them are as ridiculous as possible. (How does Trump’s lawyer still have the right to practice law?)
But – as long as we retain the rule of law – and that is a big if – lawyers are an extraordinary line of defense.

EDIT: I wrote this in 2017. Now it’s the end of 2019. Everything’s the same. Except Twimp has a new lawyer, one who is even more unbelievable, actually. But the heroic lawyers are still heroically lawyering. As long as all the new unqualified judges don’t ruin everything, the law may just catch us and keep us from plummeting.

There’s another.

This grave that the gravedigger is digging is awfully dense with bones. How many people have been previously buried there and why are they unearthing them to bury another? I’d think there would be more space available in graveyards in this period.
Some of them are relatively recent, too. There aren’t ancient ancient bones. Hamlet knew one of them so they’re in the last few decades recent.
It raises a question for me about burial practices of both the Elizabethan period and the Danish burial practices that might have made their way to Elizabethan England.

Because most cultures are a little bit particular about how they bury the dead but this gravedigger is demonstrating a cultural disregard for the graves he’s previously dug.

Here’s fine revolution, an we had the trick to see’t.

Here now is a fine example of a line that might be stretched and pulled to fit a variety of lens.
Marxists, for example, might make much of this revolution.
It’s a line that could be used for any revolution.
We could use it now, in fact. I do feel as though I’m getting to see a revolution of women right before my very eyes. It is a trick to see it. And a kick.

However – I’m almost certain that this is not the sort of revolution Hamlet means. I mean, he’s talking about the ironic circle of life. The revolution is a turning of the globe, a turning of life, the way a woman who might have knocked peasants upon the head for fun is now unceremoniously knocked about the head by a gravedigger.

Chapless, and knocked about the mazzard with a sexton’s spade:

Of course this is a great indignity. No cheeks to pinch or rouge – or even a jaw to drop in surprise. Lady Worm, who was once a lady, is now not just a skull – but a mazzard, which is an even more undignified word than skull.
And to be knocked about it with a spade? The horror! The horror!
The only word that retains any dignity is sexton – which is usually the steward for sacred objects – things like relics and sacred bones – and here, the sexton bats a skull around with a shovel. The gravedigger is elevated to a holy position and Lady Worm is laid lower than she ever imagined possible.