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The Virtues of Horatio in William Shakespeare's Play Essay

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Throughout literature, there a character who provides a moral compass for other characters. In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Horatio’s character seems fairly simple: somewhat of a “yes-man” to Hamlet, often agreeing with anything Hamlet says. However, at the end of the play we understand his significance, as he is one of the last survivors. This transition is unexpected because for most of the play, Horatio is a reserved character and doesn’t speak very often. Despite this, it is clear that Horatio and Hamlet’s friendship is extremely deep, and Hamlet trusts Horatio more than anybody. At first, the relationship is one of a prince and an advisor, but as the play goes on we realize they are in fact close friends. Horatio is much more than a “yes-man” to Hamlet, even though this may not be visible for most of the play. This friendship is due to three of Horatio’s characteristics: trustworthiness, loyalty, and admiration, which make him an ideal friend to Hamlet. These traits also inspire confidence in Horatio from other characters in the play. Even Shakespeare shows that he values Horatio by allowing him to survive at the end of the play.
Many characters in the play have confidence in Horatio because of his trustworthiness. Horatio is very trustworthy, and not only in the way that he can keep a secret if needed, but he is honorable and keeps his word, and is honest to himself, showing integrity. Here, Horatio shows this trait by revealing to Hamlet that Hamlet’s father’s ghost had appeared.
“As I do live, my honour'd lord, 'tis true;
And we did think it writ down in our duty
To let you know of it.”
-Act I scene ii

Horatio doesn't hesitate to tell Hamlet about this supernatural business because it involves Hamlet's family. Although...


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...dience that Horatio is very honorable because he is one of the two surviving characters in the play. If Horatio had the morals of everybody else in the play, he would likely be dead as well. As a result of Horatio having the traits, trustworthiness, loyalty, and admiration for Hamlet, he is able to be in the fortunate positions of Hamlet’s friend, and one of two surviving characters. Shakespeare often makes a character in his plays who is ethical and honest compared to the other characters, such as Benvolio, in Romeo and Juliet. By keeping Horatio alive, Shakespeare shows the audience that Horatio is this character in Hamlet. Although Fortinbras also survives, Horatio is morally superior, especially because of Fortinbras’ violent nature. Thus, as a result of his trustworthiness, loyalty, and admiration, Horatio is the most virtuous character in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.



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