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Shakespeare's Hamlet - Horatio, Hamlet’s Dearest Friend

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 ...

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...on: Frank Cass & Co., Ltd., 1964. p.14-16. http://www.freehomepages.com/hamlet/other/essayson.htm#demag-ess N. pag.

Pitt, Angela. “Women in Shakespeare’s Tragedies.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Shakespeare’s Women. N.p.: n.p., 1981.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html

West, Rebecca. “A Court and World Infected by the Disease of Corruption.” Readings on Hamlet. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Rpt. from The Court and the Castle. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1957.

Wilkie, Brian and James Hurt. “Shakespeare.” Literature of the Western World. Ed. Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1992.

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