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Why has Horatio joined Marcellus and Bernardo at their night watch?

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terem93 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 29, 2010 at 8:54 AM via web

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Why has Horatio joined Marcellus and Bernardo at their night watch?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 29, 2010 at 9:15 AM (Answer #1)

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The first answer is right in that Horatio does come along because he has been told that the ghost has appeared.  But I do not think it is exactly accurate to say that he tagged along to see what would happen.

Instead, I think it is more accurate to say that Marcellus has begged Horatio to come and see what is going on.  Marcellus wants him to see for himself that there really is an apparition that has been appearing to the guards.  Here is a passage that confirms what I am saying:

Horatio says ’tis but our fantasy And will not let belief take hold of him Touching this dreaded sight twice seen of us. Therefore I have entreated him along With us to watch the minutes of this night,
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mrceolsen | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 29, 2010 at 9:05 AM (Answer #2)

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Horatio was informed that they'd seen the ghost of Hamlet's father before this night, and thus he tagged along to see what would happen this night.

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caledon | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted December 16, 2014 at 1:29 AM (Answer #3)

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Pohnpei397's answer summarizes the objective reason for Horatio's presence; he suspected the others of hallucinating and has been asked to "see for himself". However, in his subsequent dialogue it becomes clear that Horatio is also educated and bold, although this does not necessarily work in his favor.

Examples of this include Horatio's knowledge of ancient Rome, legends surrounding ghosts, and having the courage to actually speak to it. However, he is also foolish in that he commands the ghost, as well as suggesting to strike it with a weapon, both of which are useless pursuits particularly given that the ghost is that of a king.

It may be that Horatio is esteemed by his peers for his knowledge, and that there is a small element of bravado and bullying that makes him a leader too, albeit a lesser one, as demonstrated by his more subservient role throughout the rest of the play. Thus, they may have requested Horatio's presence because they value his knowledge, as well as to gain his approval, as he is esteemed among them, and is more accessible than an actual nobleman or higher ranking officer.

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