Hamlet Needs Horatio and Ophelia Essay

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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…show more content…
Hamlet feels safe in telling Horatio about the ghost, and about his plan to uncover the truth from Claudius: There is a play tonight before the King. One scene of it comes near the circumstance Which I have told thee, of my father's death. I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot, Even with the very comment of thy soul Observe my uncle. (III. ii. 77-82) Hamlet trusts Horatio completely. It is to Horatio that Hamlet writes upon his return to Denmark, and Horatio to whom he confides his thoughts before the duel: “the readiness is / all. Since no man has aught of what he leaves, what / is't to leave betimes” (V. ii. 223-225)? Hamlet has not placed this much confidence in anyone else; it is only to Horatio that he reveals his true feelings. Without Horatio, there is no one to give truth to Hamlet's words. Horatio bears witness to the ghost: “Look, my lord, it comes” (I. iv. 38), giving credence to Hamlet’s later claims that he has seen the ghost of his father. When Hamlet is forcing the guards to swear an oath, it is to Horatio that he tells of his plan “to put an antic disposition on” (I. v. 172). If this scene did not occur as it did, with Hamlet informing someone of his actions, then Hamlet's sanity would be questioned from the very beginning of the play. After all, if there is no one else to confirm the facts, who can say that Hamlet truly loses his sanity in Act I, and then his "act" is not an act at all?

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