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Essay on Hamlet Needs Horatio and Ophelia

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A person cannot truly exist without those people around him, just as a play may not be successful without its supporting characters. Horatio and Ophelia are often disregarded as "supporting actors" within the play. They spend very little time onstage, and when they are their roles seem trivial; however, their true purpose is much greater. The characters of Horatio and Ophelia have two very different functions in the play. Horatio is used as a foil for Hamlet, the person to whom Hamlet can discuss his course of action and act like his true self. Ophelia, however, has a major role that is not initially evident. She is the embodiment of how Hamlet's opinion of women changes throughout the play. These two characters have drastically different roles, but both are vital to the success of Hamlet.
In Hamlet, Shakespeare develops the character of Hamlet through numerous soliloquies and long speeches. Not only is the use of these literary devices difficult for the actor, but it is also draining on the audience, who must listen to the monotony of the same person speak continually for several minutes, without any interruption. Playwrights developed plays to appeal to both the audience and the prominent stage actors of the period. Shakespeare needed a means to reduce the amount of time Hamlet talks to himself. The addition of another character, Horatio, provides this, by turning what might have been a tedious monologue into a more manageable dialogue between two characters. Horatio fulfills this role of Hamlet’s friend and confidant, someone to whom Hamlet can talk and explain his ideas.

Horatio is Hamlet's only true friend in the play. The title of "best friend" may not seem overly impressive, but this has a crucial role in ...


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...en Hamlet's true personality and his madness, as well as to shorten the number of monologues in the play. Ophelia has a much larger role. Ophelia is the physical representation of Hamlet's opinion on women, and she reflects this in her actions and behavior. When Hamlet believes that women are innocent, Ophelia is naive; when he considers them lecherous betrayers, Ophelia is altered to show this. Their time offstage helps to strengthen their respective roles: Horatio as Hamlet’s unwavering friend, who is always there for Hamlet to talk to; and Ophelia, who is the physical representation of Hamlet’s decaying opinion of women. Horatio and Ophelia are necessary to the plot to show the audience the different perspectives of Hamlet. Without these characters, Hamlet would become a tedious, flat play, consisting primarily of soliloquies and questions from the audience.


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