What is the meaning behind this quote from Hamlet "Goodnight Sweet Prince"? Is it an indication of Horatio's death; is it a suicide?

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Horatio does not die at the play's end, especially since he is needed for closure. Horatio says these words to Hamlet as a way to say goodbye to his dying friend, and the words show that Horatio does not see Hamlet as a completely negative man, but as a man who stayed unconditionally loyal to his father and country. 

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Bradford Watsica eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Hamlet is the definition of a Shakespearean tragedy. The main protagonist, Hamlet, loses everything that is important to him in the end and his life. Unlike Greek tragedies where the main character must suffer as a result of his actions and his burden is to live with the ramification of his tragic flaw (ex: Oedipus), Hamlet dies without being about to explain the conflicts he endures and his subsequent actions to his people prior to his death. 

Horatio knows this when Hamlet is taking his final breaths. He understands what his friend sacrificed in order to avenge his father's death, and the torment Hamlet suffered at the hands of Uncle Claudius' plots to kill King Hamlet and Hamlet as well.

Upon looking at the dying Hamlet, Horatio says, "Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince:" in order to reinforce the characterization that Hamlet is not solely a negative force in the text, but at the heart of Hamlet's pursuit for revenge is his innocent and unconditional love for his father. Ultimately, Hamlet's character remained faithful and loyal to his country and his family. Although his pursuit for justice for his father and revenge for his father's murder undermined his relationships with his mother and Ophelia, Horatio implies that Hamlet's missteps and foul deeds are justifiable.

Ultimately, Horatio must live in order to tell the accurate story of Hamlet's tale of love and revenge and as a result the death and destruction left in his wake. Horatio can be trusted to inform the people of the real story rather than the assumptions they will make based on the evidence that remains. 

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William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Horatio certainly does not die at the end of the play, although he does attempt to commit suicide by drinking the last of the poisoned wine in the cup. He tells Hamlet:

I am more an antique Roman than a Dane.
Here's yet some liquor left.

But Hamlet takes the cup away from him, saying:

Give me the cup. Let go. By heaven, I'll ha't!
O God, Horatio, what a wounded name,
"Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me!
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart
Absent thee from felicity awhile,

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 731 words.)

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mitchrich4199 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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rondog91 | Student


I believe you made a mistake by saying Horatio's death.  As I am sure you know, it is Horatio's line directed, with respect, to his dead friend Hamlet.

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