Essay, Research Paper: Hamlet Novel
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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