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Essay on Horatio

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Introduction

'Horatio is crucial to the meaning and effects of the play Hamlet' Often overlooked in the critical analysis of the play, Horatio is a character whose actions are of no major importance, yet in the context of the play's meaning, his role is crucial. Like the Ghost, Horatio helps Shakespeare to refine the concept of the virtuous man. This is shown through Horatio's ideals, his relationship with Hamlet, their differences and similarities. We assume that his studies in Wittenberg make develop his rational thinking and thus he would naturally reject the possibility of a ghost - however he is the one to tell Hamlet about his father's apparition. Even after witnessing the Ghost, Horatio remains a rationalist. His mind is sober, and he encourages Hamlet to preserve self-control - a key virtue of the Stoics. Yet when Hamlet dies (possibly in Horatio's arms, depending on stage directions) the roles reverse - Horatio, charged by Hamlet's passion, almost dies with the prince. ...read more.

Middle

However the most important aspect highlighted by the Prince is Horatio's philosophical understanding of life. The speech suggests Horatio is a follower of Stoicism, an ancient way of thinking developed once by the ancients and then revived by the great thinkers of the Renaissance. Founded by Xenon, (334-262b.c.) the philosophy taught to discipline one's behaviour according to one's rational mind. Hamlet states that his ideal is such. However the prince himself is not 'free' or deprived of passions. The qualities he admires in Horatio are starkly different to the ones he himself displays in his very first monologue. He speaks of evil as 'self-slaughter' and cannot come to terms with things 'rank and grosse in nature' (1.2) Hamlet is a man of many different moods and tempers; in this one speech he begins disgusted, grows more passionate in his hatred and it is not until the last two line of that speech when Hamlet says 'I must hold my tongue' and regains control of his emotions. ...read more.

Conclusion

Realising the imminence of the Prince's death, Horatio grabs the cup with the remaining poison, ready to follow his friend in death. Hamlet stops him and, on his deathbed, urges Horatio to remember the philosophy they both adored, and live by it: 'If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart, Absent thee from felicity awhile, And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain To tell my story.' It is important that Hamlet hands over his secret to Horatio, trusting him to clear his name and justify his actions to posterity. Horatio obeys and we trust him to communicate the truth, restoring Hamlet's innocence. Horatio's character helps us to understand Hamlet better, to realise how the protagonist matures, and witness the best in him even as he lay dying. Shakespeare's inclusion of Horatio and his relationship with Hamlet stresses the importance of nobility, dignity, felicity and other moral principles and virtues valued by the Ancient. And lastly, Horatio rules out a conclusive judgment concerning Hamlet's death and his suffering, and tells of them as 'carnal, bloody and unnatural acts' ensuring the audience perceived those strong feelings too. ?? ?? ?? ?? Anna Grinevich PP ...read more.

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