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Hamlet Friendship Essay, Research Paper

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet depicts the story of a distraught prince attempting to avenge the wrongful death of his father. Many critics have associated Hamlet s actions with his tragic flaw, but it is often overlooked how friendship played a role in Hamlet s apparent self-destruction. In Shakespeare s play, Hamlet’s relationships can be easily distinguished. His relationship with Horatio proves to represent the epitome of rational thinking and true friendship; however, his relationship with Rosencratz and Guildenstern contrasts representing disloyalty.

In Jungian archetypes, Horatio is the wise man. Although historically the wise-man has been played by an old man, the archetype manifests itself in a young scholar. This archetype is always portrayed as a pragmatic, yet intelligent character: it is this character who guides the light for the protagonist, Hamlet. This is evident when Horatio discusses the wisdom of Hamlet s duel with Laertes in Act 5, Scene 2, where he attempts dissuade Hamlet from his course of action. Horatio is the only character that supports Hamlet throughout the whole play; he is the apotheosis of a true friend. With quote: (ACT 3 SCENE 2 60-65) Hamlet describes the qualities of Horatio which he, himself lacks. *LOOK AT PAGE 114.

On the contrary, while Horatio represents virtue, Rosencratz and Guildenztern are a clear representation of the vice. When these characters were first introduced, Hamlet initially refers them as (Act 2 Scene 2 line 217) My excellent good friends! Earlier in the play, Hamlet also greeted Horatio in the same cordial manner. Despite the resemblance in the greetings, Hamlet questions the motives of his once good friends. Although Hamlet suspects that they are conspiring, he trusts them enough to tell them ” I am but mad north-north-west. When the / wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.” Hamlet is telling them that he can control his two-face . When Hamlet is forced to ask whether the two were sent for, and Guildenstern answers yes, the friendship is lost forever. This point signifies the initial deterioration of loyalty that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern had for Hamlet.

Throughout the play, Hamlet s faith in Horatio increases while his trust in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern declines. The two are engulfed with their service to the royal family and cannot question their own motives or reflect on their friendship with Hamlet. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern become puppets to Claudius who can control them with a simple movement of his hand. The two betray Hamlet in hopes of gaining prestige: this proves to be their tragic flaw and eventually leads to their deaths.

Despite the loss of two former friends, Hamlet still has Horatio. Horatio has proven himself trustworthy and rational; he kept the secret of the ghost yet made the right decision to tell Hamlet of the encounter. In Act 3 Scene 2, during the play (The Murder of Gonzaga), Hamlet relies on Horatio yet another time. Hamlet asks Horatio to help him observe the King s reaction to the play because Hamlet needs proof that Claudius is the murderer. For I mine eyes will rivet to his face, And after we will both our judgments join IN censure of his seeming. This does not only show the true friend that Horatio is, but the lack of self-confidence in Hamlet. During this part of the play, Hamlet uses Horatio as his spy and accomplice in uncovering the sick truths of the royal family. As a result of his reaction during the play, Claudius once again pulls his strings and summons Rosencratz and Guildenstern to force Hamlet to go back to England. By now, Hamlet has concluded that Rosencratz and Guildenstern side with the royal family rather than their once friend; Hamlet describes Rosencratze as “(he) soaks up the King’s countenance, his rewards, his authorities. Hamlet also ends the friendship, asking them why they betrayed him for dignity to the royal family, Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play upon me (Act 3 Scene 2 Line 330-335)

As the play reaches its climax, Horatio is the one who stands by Hamlet s side. Although he is prepared to join Hamlet in death, he refrains simply so he can insure that Hamlet s name will be unblemished after his death. Horatio possesses a strong morals, integrity and intelligence. Hamlet’s fondness for Horatio escalates to an admiration for his character. Horatio represents the judgment and rationality that Hamlet never had.


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