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Shakespeare's Hamlet Horatio, Hamlet’s Dearest Friend

2704 words - 11 pages

Horatio – Hamlet’s Dearest Friend          

 
   In Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet there are many characters who can be accused of many sins – but not Horatio. Rightfully Hamlet compliments Horatio on his nobility and dignity; he is indeed a faithful friend. This essay will highlight this ideal friendship as part of a general consideration of Horatio.

Cumberland Clark in “The Supernatural in Hamlet” describes Horatio’s reaction when the prince intends to follow the ghost:

Hamlet addresses the spirit, which beckons him to follow it. Horatio tries to dissuade the willing Prince, for ghosts were credited with the vile intention of enticing men to their self-destruction (I.4.69-74):

What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
Or to the dreadful summit of the clif
That beetles o’er his base into the sea
And there assume some other horrible form,
Which might deprive your seovereignty of reason
And draw you into madness? . . .

Hamlet obeys the Ghost’s command to follow him, ignoring the protest of Horatio, who is much relieved, on coming up with him later, to find him safe (101).

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 tauth to bring relief from those  thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls , an explanation why things are as they are and a directive for meaningful action. To his demands in both their specific and their general senses he re exterior (258).

The hero resolves to put on an antic din The Play s Courtly Setting  explains:

Perhaps the most terrible feature of his recognition of corruption everywhere is his recognition of it in himself too; where others deceive he must deceive too, where others...

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