William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Growing more and more unstable by each scene, Prince Hamlet relies on one character in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, to keep him sane. Throughout the play, Hamlet expresses some of his inner most feelings to his best friend Horatio. Horatio functions not only as a confident to Hamlet but also as a contrast to Hamlets potential insanity.
Horatio appears with Hamlet in almost every appearance Hamlet makes and Hamlet loves him more than any other character in the play. There is a deep trust and understanding between the two characters which seems to have developed long before they began studying together at the University of Wittenberg. The depth of their friendship can best be seen in comparison to Hamlets companionship with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who Hamlet feels betray him in their affiliation with his uncle. While Hamlet easily sends these two to die, he prevents Horatio from killing himself in order to tell the story of what happen in Denmark. In addition to Hamlet’s soliloquy’s we learn more about Hamlet through his interactions with Horatio in which he describe everything he plans and everything he’s feeling. Were it not for Horatio, the audience may be often left confused about what Hamlet was plotting.
From the onset of the play it was clear that Horatio was a clear thinking, intelligent individual. Hamlet on the other hand is impulsive and needs Horatio to balance out his emotion driven mind. In the first scene of the play, Horatio is called to confirm the existence of a ghost because he is well known for his rationality. Were it not for Horatio’s confirmation on the existence of the ghost, the audience may have believed the ghost to be a figment of Hamlet’s overactive imagination. Hamlet later acknowledges the importance of this trait in his friend when he compares himself to Horatio who is not ‘passions slave’. Although Horatio’s rational opinion was well valued, Hamlet refused take his advice in the final act which led to Hamlet’s participation in a duel and his eventual death.
Horatio’s role in Shakespeare’s play is very important not only as the confidante but also to contrast Hamlet’s personality. Both Hamlet and the audience need Horatio’s presence in the play to express Hamlets feelings since Horatio is possibly the only other character Hamlet really trusts. Being a “man that is not passion’s slave”, Horatio’s clear opinion is also needed to contrast Hamlet’s growing instability. At the end of the play Horatio is given the most important role of all; to recount the story of Hamlet for the world to know.