Hamlet's Friendships


Hamlet's Friendships
William Shakespeare's Hamlet, depicts the story of a distraught prince attempting to avenge the wrongful death of his father while nearly all his faith in honesty and the good of man is destroyed. Hamlet loses both his mother and father as a result of the royal scandal. Hamlet is forced to turn to his friends for consultation and advice. Hamlet's relationship with Horatio proves to represent the epitome of rational thinking and friendship, while Rosencratz and Guildenstern contrast this by reassigning their loyalties and abandoning their friendship with Hamlet.
The audience meets Horatio in the opening scene of the play. Marcellus and Bernardo, the Danish officers on guard at the castle, coax Horatio to speak to the vision that came to visit the castle. This sets the tone for Horatio's character. He is asked by the officers to speak to the spirit because he is a most educated scholar and the only one among them qualified to speak in such an intimidating situation. This demonstrates the respect shown to Horatio, although he is a nobleman. Horatio establishes his bravery during the opening scene by questioning the ghost. His actions demand respect.
Rosencratz and Guildenstern are introduced to the audience during the second scene of the second act. Hamlet went to school with both Rosencratz and Guildenstern. The first encounter that Hamlet has with Rosencratz and Guildenstern is very significant. Hamlet greets the two by referring to them as his "excellent good friends" (II, ii, 245). Earlier in the play Hamlet greeted Horatio in a similar, cordial fashion. Although the exchange that Hamlet has with Horatio is similar to the one he has with Rosencratz and Guildenstern, the latter raised many suspicions and forced Hamlet to question their motives. Since the two men were schoolmates and friends of Hamlet, they were summoned to Court by Claudius and Gertrude to spy on Hamlet to help explain his odd behavior. This conspiring goes on behind Hamlet's back and eludes to their deteriorating loyalty towards Hamlet.
As the play progresses, Horatio's loyalty to Hamlet becomes increasingly evident. Horatio was the one to tell Hamlet about the vision of his father that the men had seen the night before. When the ghost appears to Hamlet, it is Horatio who discourages him from following the ghost, however his pleas come up short. He is concerned with Hamlet's well being and wants nothing disastrous to occur due to Hamlet's interest with a ghost. Horatio, who was also one of Hamlet's schoolmates, adamantly vows to remain silent about the ghost of Hamlet's father.
As Hamlet's faith in Horatio grows, his trust in Rosencratz and Guildenstern diminishes. Both of their simple minds become engulfed in the idea of being of some service to the royal family. They never stopped to ask themselves why or question their own motives.
Horatio's loyalty is to his friend, while Rosencratz and Guildenstern's loyalty is to the royal family. The two eventually become puppets of the King. In essence, these former friends of Hamlet are attached to strings that the King controls in full with a simple movement of his hand. They sell-out to the possibility of gaining prestige and respect by re-assigning their loyalties. This proves to be their tragic flaw that leads to their eventual deaths.
During the second scene of the third act the players perform their performance of The Murder of Gonzaga. Hamlet asks for Horatio's assistance. Horatio agrees and is instructed to observe the King's reaction to a particular speech during the play. Now Hamlet has acquired his own spy. The play is a reenactment of Claudius's murder of his brother. When the murder is described, Claudius rises from his throne to the disgust and familiarity of what he has seen. Everyone leaves the hall except for Hamlet and Horatio who both agree that Claudius expressed his guilt by his terrified reaction to the play. This is a very significant scene between Horatio and Hamlet. Horatio and Hamlet now support the ghost's accusation completely. At this moment in the play, Horatio becomes Hamlet's accomplice in uncovering the sick truths of the royal family.
After the performance of The Murder of Gonzaga, Claudius is determined to send Hamlet to England and rid the castle of his "madness". In all actuality, Claudius wants to send Hamlet to England because he poses the only threat to Claudius's position. The play made it obvious to Claudius that