The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1207 Thursday, 1 July 1999.
Date: Wednesday, 30 Jun 1999 08:17:23 -0500
Subject: Hamlet: Why not Horatio?
Although Horatio is underfoot at the court and evidently known as a
friend of Hamlet's, Claudius and Gertrude ignore him in their need to
investigate the cause of Hamlet's distraction, instead sending for
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. But Horatio seems quite at home in the
court, appearing in later scenes - in IV, v. his excellent advice to the
Queen to receive Ophelia is accepted - yet neither Claudius nor Gertrude
call upon him to address the Hamlet "problem." I am aware that
directors or actors might invent means to explain this, but does the
play itself offer any reason for their curious oversight?
Sometimes in the plays, the audience is apparently to infer reasons for
the characters' somewhat startling conduct. A case in point is
Capulet's unexplained reversal of his decision (reported to Paris) to
respect Juliet's reluctance to marry; we must infer that, because of
Tybalt's death, Capulet is now desperate to see his line continued
before another death closes that possibility - and so the otherwise
unexpected change in his disposition. But the play itself does not make
the point explicit; our reasonable inference is required. Perhaps there
is some such explanation hiding here on this Horatio issue in Hamlet,
and the necessary inference is still dark to me.