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Hamlet and Horatio

English Language Arts B 30 Hamlet Formal Essay

Hamlet and Horatio, a prince and a poor scholar, form an unlikely duo in Shakespeare's tragedy, Hamlet. Though they are separated strongly by class, Hamlet takes Horatio into his confidence and begins to trust and love him as his dearest friend; Horatio's loyalty to the prince never wavers. Though the strong attachment can appear to be opposites attracting a rash young prince taking council from a wise, loyal servant perhaps the real attachment between the two lies in their similarities. Hamlet and Horatio's friendship is so strong because they understand each other as well as they do themselves.

s may be inferred by the title, Hamlet is the tragic main character of the play. s the play begins, we see that Hamlet is already the part of the tragic figure. He despises his own life because he is brought so low by mourning his father and brought lower still at his mother's hasty remarriage to his father's brother. Hamlet's grief is great, but it soon gets worse. Horatio comes into the story to tell the prince that he has seen a ghost of Hamlet's father. Hamlet meets the ghost and it imparts the details of his being murdered by his own brother. The ghost demands that Hamlet avenge him. Hamlet's trust has been broken badly by his mother and uncle, so he withdraws from the company of all whom he formerly associated with! "phelia, the lady he was courting, and his once dearest friends, #osencrant$ and %uildenstern. His distrust is deepened when he correctly suspects that the king, is more or less using these three people to spy on him. Hamlet's feelings of loss, betrayal, and anger are governing his actions. He is aware that his passion makes him rash, so he needs council from one who is not emotionally involved! Horatio. Horatio becomes a sounding board for Hamlet as the prince struggles with his burden of revenge. Hamlet trusts Horatio completely and Horatio's loyalty never wavers. Horatio loves Hamlet as the prince of his country, as an old schoolfellow, and as someone he admires deeply. His love makes it possible for him to be the prince's steady right hand, providing a perspective on things which is unclouded by the emotions and passions that Hamlet is sub&ect to.

"ne of the reasons that Hamlet and Horatio seem to be very different is the manner in which their intellect is revealed. Hamlet's dialogue makes it clear that he is a 'uick wit. He often uses this wit at the e(pense of others, though can be so sly in doing so that he is the only one to catch the humour. He is often particularly unkind to )olonius in this way. "n one occasion, )olonius begs leave of Hamlet, to which Hamlet responds! You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will more willingly part withal: except my life, except my life, except my life. *Hamlet, ct +, Scene +, p. ,-., +,/0+,.1 Horatio's intelligence is depicted very differently from Hamlet's. He is a voice of 'uiet wisdom; unlike Hamlet, he doesn't speak much, and is much more the sort to blend into the background. 2n this way, the two can seem fairly opposite. The other reason that Hamlet and Horatio are different is the way they react to the events of the play. Hamlet's reactions throughout the play tend to be drastic, driven by the passion he feels for revenge. The workings of his mind are often presented in lengthy, monologues, ripe with Hamlet's feelings. 2n these, is seen his &udgement is clouded by his grief and anger. This is a great contrast to Horatio's constant 'uiet, calm, and calculating demeanour. The audience rarely sees what Horatio feels, as he is most often simply a listener. t one point, Hamlet even seems a little unsatisfied with Horatio's complacent response! H 345T: O good Horatio, I ll take the ghost s word for a thousand pound. !idst percei"e# H"# T2": $ery well, my lord. Hamlet prompts Horatio, probably trying to get a more enthusiastic reaction! H 345T! %pon the talk of the poisoning# H"# T2"! I did "ery well note him.

* ct 6, scene +, p.,7., +8,0+8/1 These two features in Hamlet and Horatio are what make them appear different, but there are more 'ualities that make them very much alike.

Hamlet and Horatio usually e(press their wit in different ways, but they posses e'ual intelligence. Hamlet's intellect is easy to pick up on, being e(pressed in the witticisms of his dialogue, but what draws him to Horatio9 Hamlet knows his own cleverness and this makes him aloof; he cannot find true friends in any but his intellectual e'uals, and it is this which causes him to eventually withdraw from all but Horatio. He would not have befriended Horatio if they weren't e'uals in all but social standing. :espite being of a 'uiet nature, Horatio is not only acknowledged by Hamlet for his wisdom; others come to him for advice as well. 2n the beginning of the play, a guard of the castle, 3arcellus, brings Horatio to his post to have him witness the appearance of the ghost. They want Horatio's opinion on what they should do, and they also ask him to speak to the ghost. nother instance of Horatio's wisdom being valued is when the 'ueen %ertrude, not wanting to speak to the cra$y "phelia, is convinced to see her by Horatio's council! &he is importunate, indeed distract: ' Her mood will needs (e pitied. * ct ;, scene /, p. +6., +061. This is all that he says, but he never has to say much, which shows how greatly his input is valued. <eing of e'ual intelligence, Hamlet and Horatio find camaraderie in being superior to those around them. They grow impatient with the dull "sric, and even Horatio is spurned to remark disparagingly on the character's empty0headedness! His purse is empty already) all his golden words are spent. * ct /, scene +, p. 6-., ,+80,+=1. <eing of like0mind is the other characteristic that attracts Hamlet and Horatio to each other. Through the play, Horatio is Hamlet's guide. 5ven when Hamlet has already done a deed, he seeks Horatio's opinion on whether or not he did well. Hamlet can seem to be e(tremely rash in his decisions, planning revenge, killing )olonius, and having #osencrant$ and %uildenstern e(ecuted. He doesn't have a lot of concern for collateral damage. Hamlet often looks unstable, even when he's not acting cra$y, but

Horatio has been on Hamlet's side from the start. Horatio may not have had a hand in the damaging things that were done, but he doesn't disapprove of anything Hamlet does.

Though the characters Hamlet and Horatio appear to contrast in their intelligence and composure, the strength of their friendship lies in their similarities. )rince and poor scholar, wit and wisdom, passion and steadiness, Hamlet and Horatio's unlikely friendship survives the tragedy because they understand and trust each other fully.


Shakespeare, >. ,/7;0,7,7 Harcourt Shakespeare! Hamlet ? edited by 3arilyn 5isenstat. 0 +nd ed. @elson 5ducation, 4td. Toronto, "ntario, Aanada.