From Shakespeare's HAMLET, Act 2, Scene 2

HAMLET: I will tell you why, so shall my anticipation
     prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the King
     and Queen moult no feather. I have of late -- but where-
     fore I know not -- lost all my mirth, forgone all custom
     of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my
     disposition, that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to
     me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy,
     the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament,
     this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it
     appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent
     congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a
     man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in
     form and moving, how express and admirable; in
     action, how like an angel; in apprehension, how like a
     god! the beauty of the world; the paragon of animals;
     and yet to me what is this quintessence of dust? Man
     delights not me -- nor women neither, though by your
     smiling you seem to say so.

From Shakespeare's HAMLET Act 5, Scene 1

(In Grave Yard)

What man dost thou dig it for?

For no man, sir.

What woman, then?

For none, neither.

Who is to be buried in't?

One that was a woman, sir; but, rest her soul, she's dead.

How absolute the knave is! we must speak by the
card, or equivocation will undo us. By the Lord,
Horatio, these three years I have taken a note of
it; the age is grown so picked that the toe of the
peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he
gaffs his kibe. How long hast thou been a

Of all the days i' the year, I came to't that day
that our last king Hamlet overcame Fortinbras.

How long is that since?

Cannot you tell that? every fool can tell that: it
was the very day that young Hamlet was born; he that
is mad, and sent into England.

Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?

Why, because he was mad: he shall recover his wits
there; or, if he do not, it's no great matter there.


'Twill, a not be seen in him there; there the men
are as mad as he.

How came he mad?

Very strangely, they say.

How strangely?

Faith, e'en with losing his wits.

Upon what ground?

Why, here in Denmark: I have been sexton here, man
and boy, thirty years.

How long will a man lie i' the earth ere he rot?

I' faith, if he be not rotten before he die--as we
have many pocky corses now-a-days, that will scarce
hold the laying in--he will last you some eight year
or nine year: a tanner will last you nine year.

Why he more than another?

Why, sir, his hide is so tanned with his trade, that
he will keep out water a great while; and your water
is a sore decayer of your whoreson dead body.
Here's a skull now; this skull has lain in the earth
three and twenty years.

Whose was it?

A whoreson mad fellow's it was: whose do you think it was?

Nay, I know not.

A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! a' poured a
flagon of Rhenish on my head once. This same skull,
sir, was Yorick's skull, the king's jester.


E'en that.

Let me see.



Takes the skull

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 rims at
it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your
gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment,
that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one
now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?
Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let
her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must
come; make her laugh at that. Prithee, Horatio, tell
me one thing.

What's that, my lord?

Dost thou think Alexander looked o' this fashion i'
the earth?
E'en so.

And smelt so? pah!
Puts down the skull
E'en so, my lord.

To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may
not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander,
till he find it stopping a bung-hole?
'Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.

No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither with
modesty enough, and likelihood to lead it: as
thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried,
Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth; of
earth we make loam; and why of that loam, whereto he
was converted, might they not stop a beer-barrel?
Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away:
O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,
Should patch a wall to expel the winter flaw!

Compare the preceding quotation from Hamlet to Masaccio's Tribute Money with Donors c1428. Both deal with similar iconography concerning the grave and human remains. How is the message similar or different between the two?