HORATIO

Horatio is a friend of Hamlet’s. He lives in Elsinor. This character appears in acts I (i,13 – 69),IV (v, 1 – 35) and V (i, 195 – 289). In the first act Horatio and the guards see the ghost of the dead king appear; at the beginning, the ghost walks off apparently offended by Horatio’s words. After another apparition of the ghost Horatio decides to tell Hamlet what he has seen. Later on, in act five, Horatio and Hamlet talk to a gravedigger about death and corruption. Afterwards Horatio and Hamlet suspect a trap organised by Claudius, but they react differently. In fact, Hamlet wants to fight with Laertes but Horatio is more reflective and gives Hamlet some advice about the duel. At the end he is given a very important role: to report the truth, that Claudius killed his brother, the old king of Denmark. At the beginning of the play this character can be compared with Marcellus. In fact, when they see the ghost appear, they have two different reactions: Marcellus is a bit superstitious and a bit frightened, Horatio instead is sceptical because he thinks it’s an optical illusion or a hallucination. For this reason he is rational, too. In the last part we see Horatio be solicitous because he worries about Hamlet’s health. Horatio is presented to us as utterly dependable, well educated, stoical, dispassionate and devout, but far removed from the revenge hero. Of all the major characters he remains uncontaminated by corruption in Elsinore. When the Mousetrap breaks up and Hamlet clearly wishes his friend to proise his stage management and confirm that Claudius’s behaviour was suspicious, Horatio is scrupulously impartial. Essentially static, Horatio expresses no affections save those revealed at the end for the prince he bravely attempts to join in death.