Yorick  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Yorick was the deceased court jester whose skull is exhumed by the gravedigger in Act 5, Scene 1, of Shakespeare's Hamlet. The sight of Yorick's skull evokes a monologue from Prince Hamlet on the vile effects of death:

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? (Hamlet, V.i)

The opening words are very commonly misquoted as "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well."

It has often been suggested that Shakespeare intended his audience to connect Yorick with the Elizabethan comedian Richard Tarlton, a star performer of the pre-Shakespearian stage, who had been dead for around the same time as Yorick in the play.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Yorick" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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