Horatio is represented as being a scholar. How does Shakespeare reveal this characteristic in Hamlet?
Hamlet is an allegorical hero. He interacts with other characters who reflect his possible options in taking revenge:
- Laertes reflects the limitations of instant revenge
- Fortinbras reflects the limitations of political revenge
- Ophelia reflects the limitations of madness
- Horatio reflects the limitations of talk
From the very first scenes of the play, Horatio establishes himself as a talker. When he first hears of the Ghost, he says:
- Horatio doubts the supernatural:
- Marcellus says this about Horatio:
- Horatio tells the Ghost:
When Hamlet sees the Ghost, he follows it. Horatio warns against this. Thus, Horatio is a passive scholar and a doubter. He is a man of books, a college student who only believes what he sees, and he can only engage is discourse, not action. He is no soldier (like the Ghost), no general (like Fortinbras), and no passionate reactionary (like Laertes. In this way, he only offers Hamlet his advice in words.
Hamlet, thus, makes the mistake throughout the play of engaging others in dialogue (Polonius, his mother). Other times, he doesn't engage in dialogue at all (silent interview with Ophelia). Certainly, words contribute to much of Hamlet's delay.
The author, Shakespeare reveals this right from the first scene in Act one. When the ghost appears to the soldiers on guard, the are able to recognise that it looks like the old King of Denmark. Despite the fact that they are able to recognise it, they are not able to speak to it, until Horatio comes to see the ghost for himself,as he doesn't believe their story. When the ghost appears, the other guards- Bernardo and Marcellus, ask Horatio to speak to it. This shows that he is most likely to be more educated than the rest of 'em. Also. at the end of the book,when Hamlet is about to die, he asks Horatio to tell his story to the world. This also reveals him as a scholar.