December 10, 2007
World Lit 10-5/Spencer
The Influence of Horatio
In Hamlet, the character of Horatio shapes Hamlet, and essentially the story line, more than any other character. Many would perceive Horatio as simply a foil for Hamlet, but he is much more. He is Hamlet’s sole confidante and friend in the play. Horatio is a very intelligent and learned man and he enjoys thinking and logic. What Horatio tells Hamlet throughout the play is nearly always exactly what Hamlet needs to hear. He gives Hamlet the stable and rational mind to lean on and to interpret the world through. While Hamlet is quick and very frequently haphazard in making a decision, Horatio is his right hand man that he turns to. When he is confused he goes to him for support and balance because as Hamlet says, “his judgment is so well” (III.i.60). In many of these ways Horatio is his foil because he exposes all of the extreme flaws of character in Hamlet but he is more than just a foil because of the way he develops the play and how the reader comprehends what is going on. Horatio has all the qualities of a man which Hamlet wants and admires.
As one in suff’ring 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 judgment are so well comeddled
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 hear,
As I do thee. (III.ii.57-65)
Horatio is Hamlet’s rational and stable side of himself. Hamlet confides in Horatio and Horatio takes in all the information Hamlet gives him with an unwavering sense of understanding. He does not allow himself to be carried away by emotions, as Hamlet says, “Horatio, thou are e’en as just a man / As e’er my conversation coped withal” (III.ii.45-6). Horatio gives many of Hamlet’s actions validity. Without...