Horatio may be a minor role in the great Shakespeare play “Hamlet”; however he is role of great importance to not only the readers of this play but also to the good Prince Hamlet of who Horatio was his closest and dearest friend and confident. Horatio serves two main purposes in this tragedy first as the steadfast friend of the prince and second as the teller of Hamlets life story.
True and faithful, Horatio is the ideal image of friend. Always willing to help and be of service to Hamlet the Prince. They studied together at the University of Wittenburg and were good scholars as well as good friends. Horatio is in truth the man Hamlet would like to be. He is smart and good, but is not driven to any extreme or rash actions because of his intellectual mind. Horatio is willing to trust people and accept the world as it comes to him but is also willing to look for truth and risk his life for those he loves. Hamlet admires and praises Horatio for the qualities he so firmly possesses, that he lacks, such as virtue of truth and self control: “Horatio, thou art e’en as just a man….as e’ver my conversation cop’d withal.” Horatio is a strong character who is unwavering in his friendship and ideals, and Hamlet often longs for the peace of mind he seems to think Horatio possesses.
“Dost thou hear? Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice, and could of men distinguish her election, hath seal’d thee for herself, for thou hast been as one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing, a man that fortune’s buffets and rewards hast ta’en with equal thanks: and blest are those whose blood and judgement are so well commedled that they are not a pipe for fortune’s finger to sound what stop she please. Give me that man that is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him in my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart, as i do thee.”
Horatio feels deeply for Hamlet and loves him greatly, but will not try to rule him or persuade him. He remains level-headed and stable and is not “…passion’s slave…” Hamlet and Horatio are different but not so much as to push them away from each other. Hamlet often leaves the other characters of the drama confused but Horatio seems to be able to make out what the Prince wants to express. Their conversations lay a great deal of meaning and ground to the play, and help explain many of Hamlets mysteries that he trusts no one else to tell but his best friend. Horatio easily believes Hamlet even when so many others doubt his sanity, therefore it makes it easier for readers to trust and believe Hamlet as well. Other than Hamlet’s many long soliloquies, his conversations with his friend are the only other true insight into our hero’s thoughts, innermost soul, and feelings.
Why we may ask, other than the fact that they are good friends, does the good Prince trust Horatio so much as in to leave the fate and his story of his life and country in his hands? Hamlet can rely on Horatio for many reasons the main being that from the very beginning of this play he is calm, sensible and intelligent. He is not afraid of the ghost and even demands that it speak if it knows anything that they may need to know “If thou art privy to thy country’s fate ….O, speak! Or if thou hast uphoarded in they life extorted treasure in the womb of earth….Speak of it, stay and speak!” He is everything the Prince needs in a friend at this time.
The good Horatio believes Hamlet in all cases and supports him in all his decisions except one, the very one that costs Hamlet his life just as he had predicted it would. He loves the Prince Hamlet so much that he would rather kill himself by his own hand with the poisoned wine, with honor and duty, than to have to live on after Hamlet’s death. Hamlet however had another plan, a plan that puts Horatio in a place of high importance. This place was to tell his story that he might not be forgotten. With his last breaths he trusts his friend to find a way and the words to tell the truth about his life, and his fathers in the confusing times he must know is coming to his dear country of Denmark.“If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart…Absent thee from felicity a while…and in this harsh world draw thy breath is pain…to tell my story.” Entrusting this task to Horatio shows his true love for his friend better than any gifts of words he could have spoken. Therefore in the end Hamlet, the readers hero, becomes a little more like his idol and friend Horatio accepting his fate of death and the evil in the world.
Horatio remains after all the other main characters have fallen, so was he really such a minor character? He remains as a pure example of friendship of the most precious kind. True and unselfish, he is a friend that any person no matter what age they may be or what time era they live in would be proud to have!