Horatio in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

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Horatio in Hamlet

In Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, the closest friend of the hero is a fellow-student from Wittenberg (Granville-Barker 93), an intelligent and understanding young man by the name of Horatio. This essay seeks to carefully present his character.

Marchette Chute in “The Story Told in Hamlet” describes Horatio’s part in the opening scene of the play:

The story opens in the cold and dark of a winter night in Denmark, while the guard is being changed on the battlements of the royal castle of Elsinore. For two nights in succession, just as the bell strikes the hour of one, a ghost has appeared on the battlements, a figure dressed in complete armor and with a face like that of the dead king of
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Burton in “Hamlet” comments on the tightness of Horatio’s relationship with the hero:

Horatio is Hamlet’s Rock of Gibraltar throughout the play. He confides in him alone, he submits his suspicions to the cot formation of Horatio’s judgment and finally dies in his arms, or trusting him with the justification of his acts to posterity. The first thing we hear of Horatio is that he is a scholar, and this intellectual bent he shares with Hamlet, but temperamentally they are opposites. Hamlet praises Horatio for the qualities that he himself conspicuously lacks. Horatio is not "passion’s slave;" he has an imperturbability of mind and spirit that nothing can shake. Hamlet, when he is about to test Horatio’s friendship and judgment says:

Give me that man

That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him

In my heart’s core—aye, in my heart of heart,

As I do thee. . . (Burton)

Those last four words say so much. With the three of them standing on the ramparts, the ghost appears at one a.m.. The ghost, a former sinner since he is suffering in the afterlife (West 110), reveals to the protagonist the extent of the evil within Elsinore, “the human truth” (Abrams 467). The Ghost says that King Hamlet I was murdered by Claudius, who had a relationship with Gertrude prior to the murder; the ghost requests a “restorative” revenge (Gooch 1) by Hamlet: “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” Hamlet swears to do this; he then
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