Hamlet essaysImportance of Minor Characters in Hamlet
A now-dead philosopher once said that people need three relationships in lifeconfidant, lover, mentor. Horatio acts as Hamlets confidant, fulfilling that relationship for Hamlet. As a result, we can contrast Hamlets dialogue with Horatio to Hamlets soliloquies.
In Act III, Scene 2, lines 65-70 Hamlet tells Horatio about his idea: to use the players to prove Cladiuss guilt.
There is a play to-night before the king; 65
One scene of it comes near the circumstance
Which I have told thee of my father’s death:
I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,
Even with the very comment of thy soul
Observe mine uncle 70
Hamlet isnt commanding Horatio to do thisthe relationship isnt based on Hamlets princehood. Hamlet has fully told Horatio what he suspects. He has confided in Horatio.
From our perspective as readers, this relationship gives us insight into Hamlets state of mind. One great question about Hamlet is whether Hamlet is mad. The things Hamlet tells Horatio indicate that Hamlet is perfectly sane. Hamlet declares (alone) in Act II, Scene 2, line 535-538, “Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,/ That I, the son of the dear murderd,/ Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,/ Must like a whore unpack my heart with words.” These lines alone dont point toward or away from madness. But look at it with III, 2, 65-70 in mind. We see him resolve to prove Cladiuss guilt; understand the situation as it really is; and talk with Horatio, telling him how he feels. All these things show Hamlet as rational, calculating, perceptivesane. And we know this because Horatio is there.
In Act V, Scene 2, Hamlet stabbed Laertes, watched his mother die, and poured poison down his uncles throat. How can we possibly know what Hamlet is thinking, especially because he will soon be dead himself? Horatio the Confidant is there, the good friend who will listen to Hamlet, who would kill himself to follow Hamlet, who vows to devote his life to Hamlets message.
Another big question about Hamlet: Did Hamlets revenge come at too great a price? Its a judgment call: the evidence can be interpreted either way. That there is evidence at all is due to Horatio. In lines 321-328, Hamlet tells Horatio this:
As thou’rt a man,
Give me the cup: let go; by heaven, I’ll have’t.
O good Horatio, what a wounded name,
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me!
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart 325
Absent thee from felicity awhile,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,
To tell my story.
One could use lines 323-324 to say, “See, Hamlet regrets how he has destroyed his family! Too great a cost!” Or, one could say, “See, Hamlet understands what hes done, and understood it beforehand, but he did it anyway. He thinks it was worth it!”
The nice thing about Shakespeare is that we get to come up with our own interpretations. Thats why his plays are still drawing people, after four hundred years.