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Hamlet Revised Essay, Research Paper

Chani Nissenbaum Mrs. Marvin

3/19/00 English

Hamlet Essay

In the novel, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, Hamlet, prince of Denmark, is at school in Wittenberg, Germany, when his father, King Hamlet, dies. He comes home to Elsinore Castle to find his mother, Queen Gertrude, married to his uncle Claudius, the late king’s younger brother. Claudius has had himself crowned king. Moreover, soldiers guarding Elsinore report to Hamlet through his friend Horatio that his father’s ghost has been seen on the battlements. Hamlet goes with them to see the ghost, which speaks to him, saying that Claudius has murdered the king by pouring poison in his ear and that he, Hamlet, must avenge his father’s murder. Hamlet swears to do this, but his philosophic mind is deeply upset at the shock of his uncle’s treachery. In order to determine if Claudius is truly guilty, Hamlet produces a play in which the plot is parallel to King Hamlet?s murder. Hamlet asks his good friend, Horatio to watch Claudius?s reaction to the play, and to determine whether Claudius is guilty or not.

However, Horatio is not the good friend he seems, and is much shrewder than he appears to be. Like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Horatio is merely Hamlet?s friend for selfish purposes. Horatio only acts for himself alone. Even from the beginning, Horatio assists Claudius in the murder of King Hamlet, in order to gain Claudius?s favor. This is why Horatio is present for King Hamlet?s funeral and Gertrude?s marriage. He is not there because he cares for Hamlet, rather because he is already in Denmark for the murder.

After the play, Horatio learns of Hamlet?s plan for vengeance against Claudius, which deepens his motives further. It is then that Horatio decides to somehow get rid of Claudius and Hamlet so as to take the crown for himself. Being a master manipulator, Horatio gains the full trust of Claudius and Hamlet in order to carry out his plan.

Following Hamlet?s play, Horatio holds meetings with Claudius, where he arranges for Hamlet?s ?one way? trip to England. Horatio fosters Claudius?s feelings of paranoia and guilt. He convinces Claudius that the only way to deal with Hamlet is to kill him. Claudius agrees and arranges for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to send Hamlet off to England.

When Hamlet goes to England, he asks his ?trusted friend? Horatio to take over his position. While most of the palace thinks the substitution is only temporary, Horatio knows it is permanent. However, to Horatio?s dismay, Hamlet manages to escape his death sentence in England and returns to Denmark.

Horatio is upset by this turn of events, but is not deterred. Horatio listens to Hamlet?s philosophical tales of woe and hardship in order to gain Hamlet?s friendship. Horatio enforces the words of the ghost of King Hamlet. He tells Hamlet that the only way to remain loyal to his dead father is by taking vengeance on Claudius. Horatio suggests to Hamlet that the best way to rid of Claudius would be through the least obvious method, by making it look like an accident. Horatio proposes that Hamlet hold a friendly duel with Claudius. Furthermore, Horatio tells Hamlet that he should place poison on his sword, so that one unthreatening strike would kill Claudius. Since Hamlet believes that their friendship is sincere, he follows Horatio?s plan.

Meanwhile, the sly Horatio convinces Claudius to adhere to the same plan. Playing on Claudius?s paranoia, Horatio mentions that if Hamlet?s death appears accidental no suspicion will be placed on him.

The day of the feud arrives, and the duel begins. Claudius, an older and more skilled player, strikes Hamlet first. Suddenly Horatio trips Hamlet. Both swords fly up into the air, and the two swords are switched. Hamlet then takes a strike to Claudius. To Horatio?s delight, Hamlet falls down and begins to die from the effects of the poison. Immediately after, the poison affects Claudius as well. Horatio shouts to the crowd it is apparent that the insane Hamlet has attempted to poison and kill Claudius. Horatio kneels down to Claudius, and whispers how sorry he is to see his loyal king die. Claudius praises Horatio and dies. Hamlet dies a lonely and disgraceful death as the shocked crowd watches. Horatio rises, while holding the kings body. He screams toward the crowd a lie, that the noble king?s last wishes were to crown Horatio as king. Horatio is crowned King of Denmark thereafter. His plan is a success.

People are not always what they seem. In Shakespeare?s version of Hamlet, Horatio is the epitome of goodness and loyalty. Though, throughout the novel his true motives are never revealed. Perhaps he is behind the murders all along.


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