Horatio – Unsullied Character In Shakespeare's Hamlet

2839 words - 11 pages

Horatio – Unsullied Character in Hamlet

 
     Perhaps even more innocent than Ophelia in Shakespere’s Hamlet is Horatio. This essay will treat his character in depth, including many literary critical evaluations.

 

Who is the play’s historian? None other than Horatio. In the first scene Horatio gives a detailed history of what has gone before regarding King Hamlet:

 

Our last king,

     Whose image even but now appear'd to us,

     Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,

     Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride,

     Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet--

     For so this side of our known world esteem'd him--

     Did slay this Fortinbras; who by a seal'd compact,

     Well ratified by law and heraldry,

     Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands

     Which he stood seized of, to the conqueror:

     Against the which, a moiety competent

     Was gaged by our king; which had return'd

     To the inheritance of Fortinbras,

     Had he been vanquisher; as, by the same covenant,

     And carriage of the article design'd,

     His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,

     Of unimproved mettle hot and full,

     Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there

     Shark'd up a list of lawless resolutes,

     For food and diet, to some enterprise

     That hath a stomach in't; which is no other--

     As it doth well appear unto our state--

     But to recover of us, by strong hand

     And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands

     So by his father lost: and this, I take it,

     Is the main motive of our preparations,

     The source of this our watch and the chief head

     Of this post-haste and romage in the land. (1.1)

 

This is the most that Horatio speaks at any time in the drama, fulfilling his role as the historian of the play. But this scene is not his most important; such would be the final scene of the tragedy where he accompanies the hero to his death and turns over the rule of Denmark to Fortinbras.

 

A.C. Bradley in Shakespearean Tragedy notes a problem involving Horatio:

 

When Horatio, at the end of the soliloquy, enters and greets Hamlet, it is evident that he and Hamlet have not recently met at Elsinore. Yet Horatio came to Elsinore for the funeral (I.ii. 176). Now even if the funeral took place some three weeks ago, it seems rather strange that Hamlet, however absorbed in grief and however withdrawn from the Court, has not met Horatio [. . .]. (368)

 

Marchette Chute in “The Story Told in Hamlet” describes Horatio’s part in the opening scene of the play:

 

The story opens in the cold and dark of a winter night in Denmark, while the guard is being changed on the battlements of the royal castle of Elsinore. For two nights in succession, just as the bell strikes the hour of one, a ghost has appeared on the battlements, a figure...

Find Another Essay On Horatio – Unsullied Character in Shakespeare's Hamlet

The Character of Ophelia in Shakespeare's Hamlet

1197 words - 5 pages The Character of Ophelia in Hamlet      In Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, the character Ophelia plays an important role in the elaboration of the plot.  In the beginning, she is in a healthy state of mind, in love with Hamlet, yet controlled by her father.  During the play she has several troubling experiences involving Hamlet - causing her to become distressed.  The death of Ophelia's father leaves her mentally unstable and in a state of

The Character of Laertes in Shakespeare's Hamlet

1291 words - 5 pages The Character of Laertes in Hamlet Though seeming to simply be a minor character, Laertes is of great importance in the play, Hamlet, and much more than one would initially believe, due to his extensive inner conflict. He is good, loyal, and honorable, seeming to possess the greatest virtue of all the characters, yet he still is doomed to die along with the other characters, precisely because of his great virtue.     As Scene Two

The Character of Gertrude in Shakespeare's Hamlet

537 words - 2 pages The Character of Gertrude in Shakespeare's Hamlet         It is tempting to condemn Gertrude as evil, but it is probably more sensible to consider her as weak and inconstant. Hamlet's heartfelt line "Frailty, thy name is woman" sums up his view of her actions early in the play. Like many of Shakespeare's women characters, she is "sketched in" rather than drawn in detail. We know that she has a deep affection for her son, which is

The Character of Claudius in Shakespeare's Hamlet

2283 words - 9 pages The Character of Claudius in Hamlet        Shakespeare presents Claudius as a character with many faces yet the audience can clearly understand his motives and ambition throughout the play. His character does however change and we clearly see how his evilness and weakness increases as his need to escape discovery and his clandestine nature in doing so, is revealed.       It is in Act one scene two that we are first introduced

The Character of Gertrude in Shakespeare's Hamlet

2161 words - 9 pages The Character of Gertrude in Shakespeare's Hamlet The Gertrude in Shakespeare’s tragic drama Hamlet is controversial in the sense that some critics uphold her morality and some deny it. Let’s consider this question and others related to this character. Gertrude has many good qualities in the play; she is not evil through and through. Rebecca Smith in “Scheming Adulteress or Loving Mother” presents an image of the queen in

Analysis of Ophelia's Character in Shakespeare's Hamlet

1196 words - 5 pages In the English play Hamlet, Shakespeare incorporates deep analytical thought in his writing by the use of character, symbolism, and motifs. Specifically, readers can find these characteristics through analytical reading of the character Ophelia. While initially reading the story, Ophelia represents a character that is typical of the women in the 1600s, one who is too submissive and directed by the people around her. First impressions of

The Deceptive Character of Polonius in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

1323 words - 5 pages The Deceptive Character of Polonius in William Shakespeare's Hamlet "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!". This quote by Sir Walter Scott has been heard around the world, translated into many languages, and repeated to us by parents, teachers, and our peers. What does it truly mean? Humans create major and possibly chaotic problems when trying to beguile others. This quote not only applies to one

Character analysis of Hamlet as a tragic hero in Shakespeare's "Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark"

740 words - 3 pages Hamlet is not the usual tragic hero that Shakespeare liked to use in his works. In "The Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark" he does not die an evil man, but is complemented by Horatio and Fortinbras. There are many different thoughts on what Hamlet's tragic flaw is; jealousy, inaction, and insanity are all accepted as possibilities. Jealously and inaction are very plausible, but Hamlet was not insane.Hamlet is in love with his mother Gertrude

Shakespeare's Hamlet - The Character of Gertrude

1499 words - 6 pages Hamlet – the Character of Gertrude       Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet, presents ten male characters for every one female character. The only prominent female characters are two: Ophelia, Laertes’ sister and Polonius’ daughter; and Gertrude, the queen and wife of Claudius and mother of Hamlet. This essay will explore the character, role, and importance of Gertrude.   Prince Hamlet initially appears in the play dressed in solemn

Character Analysis of Shakespeare's Hamlet (Hamlet, Claudius, and Ophelia)

1561 words - 6 pages Within the play, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, there are many famous quotes, like the famous, "To be, or not to be: (III, i, 56*)" soliloquy by Hamlet, and also many famous characters that lots of people today recognize without knowing the whole story. The play revolves around the main character, Hamlet, who is trying to get revenge on his uncle who killed his father to become king. Hamlet and his friend, Horatio, are the only ones who know

Hamlet: the Nature of Men. is an essay wich shows Hamlets character through the contrast with Fortinbras Laertes and Horatio

961 words - 4 pages Hamlet: the Nature of MenIn the Shakespearean play Hamlet, Hamlet, the tragic hero is a very well developed character. Shakespeare elucidates his strengths and weaknesses by contrasting them with those of Fortinbras, Laertes and Horatio. Whereas Fortinbras is determined, Hamlet is indecisive; whereas Laertes is excused for gambling, drinking and whoring, Hamlet condemns any vice; whereas Horatio exhibits balanced behavior, Hamlet is torn between

Similar Essays

The Character Horatio In Shakespeare's Hamlet

1241 words - 5 pages The Character Horatio in Shakespeare's Hamlet In the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, the confidant Horatio is created to serve a number of different purposes. Horatio is a flat character. He is a loyal, obedient, and trustworthy companion to Hamlet. His character does not undergo any significant transformation throughout the play, except that he serves as a witness of the death of Hamlet, Claudius, and Gertrude. Horatio's role in the

Horatio In Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

2289 words - 9 pages Horatio in Hamlet      In Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, the closest friend of the hero is a fellow-student from Wittenberg (Granville-Barker 93), an intelligent and understanding young man by the name of Horatio. This essay seeks to carefully present his character.   Marchette Chute in “The Story Told in Hamlet” describes Horatio’s part in the opening scene of the play:   The story opens in the cold and dark of a winter

Horatio : Character Analysis From The Play Hamlet

778 words - 3 pages Potential I believe that out of all the characters in William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Horatio, has the most potential. What I mean by potential is that Horatio would make the best real person if he were not a character within the play. Besides Horatio, every other character seems to have some kind of major flaw or weakness in comparison. Claudius is obviously power

Shakespeare's Hamlet Horatio, Hamlet’s Dearest Friend

2704 words - 11 pages unclear manner following the ghost’s revelations (since he does not wish to reveal the ghost’s revelations): “These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.” And Hamlet apologizes to Horatio. From the outset of the drama, the reader/viewer sees the sporadic development of Horatio’s character, into one of complex temperament and motivation, which would render him quite “rounded” (Abrams 33); in other words, he is one of Shakespeare’s “sharply