In addition to the overlay of fictive underworlds created by allusions to the epic poems of Homer, Virgil, and Dante, Hades also draws upon the quite realistic, this-worldly graveyard of Shakespeare's Hamlet. The previous chapter has shown that Bloom knows this work, well enough even to quote from it, and in Hades he thinks five or six times of the play's countless references to dead bodies. Several of these thoughts have to do with putting corpses into the ground, and the need to maintain a sense of humor about the grim business.

John Hunt 2022

Hamlet dragging Polonius' body offstage, in a drawing by an unknown artist. Source:

Grave-digger, 1871 pencil on paper drawing by Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov, held in the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Cliff Saunders as the gravedigger in a 2018 production by the Toronto Theatre. Source:

Tony Bingham as the gravedigger and Matthew Amendt as Hamlet in a 2018 production by the Pittsburgh Public Theater. Source:

Billy Crystal as the gravedigger in Kenneth Branagh's 1996 film.