365 Days of Shakespeare

That's right – the Bard in a year.

302. Hamlet’s friendship and loyalty

with 3 comments

This isn’t a terribly well-thought out entry since I am typing it as it occurs to me, but it is something I have been mulling over lately. Adam and I talk a lot about our dream production of Hamlet, so we naturally end up talking a lot about the characters themselves.

One thing about Hamlet himself that we both agree is important is that possibly the best way to make him sympathetic rather than a monster – which is an easy route for him to take considering the abuse/death he puts several people through during the course of the play – is to make sure that he is a good friend.

Look at Horatio. Horatio makes it clear that he will do anything out of loyalty to Hamlet and will even die out of loyalty. That goes way beyond the call of duty.

Now, though Hamlet way outranks Horatio, if he is not at least obviously willing to defend him and be as good a friend to him as Horatio is to Hamlet – apart from the obvious thing about them not being of the same class – then it is harder to believe Hamlet is a true friend with Horatio and not simply taking advantage of Horatio’s dutiful nature.

I’m not exactly sure how to show this, since it is hard enough to figure out the more basic things with Hamlet’s character, but I would be interested in hearing some ideas.


Written by Caroline Mincks

July 30, 2010 at 10:14 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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3 Responses

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  1. I’ve heard of a performance where, at the beginning of 5.2, Osric is menacing towards Horatio because he’s just a scholar, not the prince. Ultimately, Hamlet agrees to the duel to save Horatio, which speaks volumes – especially with an Osric as insistent as that one, Hamlet must have known it would have been somehow fixed. Of course, that’s just one interpretation out of many: for example Gibson’s Hamlet is more cold-hearted towards his Horatio, which is fitting, while there’s something almost romantic between Jacobi’s and his (incidentally, Jacobi’s is my favorite Hamlet). Then there’s Asta Nielsen’s, who is actually in love with her Horatio, but can’t tell him because it would ruin her disguise as a man.

    …Yeah. I have seen many, many Hamlets. I could talk for days about them. XD


    September 5, 2010 at 3:56 AM

  2. In our version of Hamlet I was in, We started with a tableau of the last scene and horatio had a voice over in modern english, saying he was alive to tell hamlets story. They way we played it– he was the protector of hamlet and was almost an all knowing character. I cant quite explain how it worked so well but he and hamlet were equals as friends too. Horatio was almost a narrator in a sense…


    March 28, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    • Huh. Interesting idea. I’d love to see that played out in person.


      March 29, 2012 at 9:27 AM

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