How is friendship and loyalty a theme in "Hamlet"?
We see a relationship that contrasts that of the friendship between Hamlet and Horatio when Rosencrantz and Guildenstern come to Denmark. Claudius has sent for them, and when they arrive, he asks them to keep an eye on Hamlet for him and then report back to him with their observations. Claudius passes off his request as the effect of his concern and care for his step-son and nephew. However, the fact that Hamlet's "friends" agree to watch Hamlet and tell the king whatever they see makes them much less loyal friends than Horatio, who Hamlet trusts implicitly (probably because Horatio would never do something like that which Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have agreed to). The unwitting pair is punished for its disloyalty and failure of friendship when Hamlet...
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Sorry, My post (above) seems to have gone hay-wire! And it was long and brilliant too! Oh well.
In a nutshell... The most important example of loyalty is Hamlet's Mother's lack of loyalty to Hamlet's Father. While Hamlet has barely even begun to greive for his dead father, his mother has buried him, remarried and now cheerfully shows all the signs of a sexually busy 'blushing young bride'. Hamlet rages at this. Her disloyalty is incomprehensible to him. Her betrayal is worse than his father's death. On Hamlet's long list of troubles, his mother's betrayal is at the top, by a long way.
This is the very heart of the play.
Consider this... when Hamlet finally confronts Gertrude about her re-marriage, he is so angry and so bursting to tell her what he thinks about it, that when he murders Polonius, his first line in response to having mistakenly killed someone is basically, "Yeah ok, that's not good, but at least I didn't BETRAY my FATHER!" and he immediately returns to demanding his mother explains her disloyalty, while forgotten Polonius's warm life-blood pools on the floor behind him.