In Hamlet, why does Hamlet insist that Horatio remain alive? What must Horatio do for Denmark? 

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Throughout the play, Hamlet's good friend Horatio is both his confidant and the voice of stability and reason in a corrupt court. He knows what has happened from beginning to end, although he is on the sidelines for most of the main action. For example, Horatio sees the ghost before Hamlet does, and he is there when Hamlet meets the ghost on the castle ramparts. He knows Hamlet is only pretending to be insane. Horatio is with Hamlet in the graveyard when Ophelia's funeral procession arrives. He knows what happens to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Because the dying Hamlet is aware that Horatio is the best and most reliable witness to recent events at the Danish court, he asks him not to commit suicide. Somebody needs to stay alive, Hamlet says, to tell the story of what happened and how it ended so tragically. Hamlet also needs Horatio to let Fortinbras know that he has his blessing ("vote") to take the Danish throne, saying:

Tell him so, with the news, more and less,
Which has been asked for.

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ladyvols1 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In the last act and last scene of the play, Hamlet insists that Horatio remain alive to tell his story. He wants to make sure that everyone knows Claudius was the one who murdered his father and that he, Hamlet, was not responsible for the death of his mother. Horatio must make sure that everyone knows that Fortinbras has Hamlet's vote to become king.

O good Horatio, what a wounded name that is,
O, I’m dying, Horatio,
The potent poison quite conquers my soul.
I cannot live to hear the news from England,
But I do predict that the throne belongs
To Fortinbras. He has my dying vote,
Tell him so, with the news, more and less,
Which has been asked for. The rest is silence.

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