The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1239 Tuesday, 6 July 1999.
Date: Monday, 5 Jul 1999 10:43:45 -0400
Subject: 10.1230 Assorted On-Going Threads
Comment: RE: SHK 10.1230 Assorted On-Going Threads
> Date: Friday, 2 Jul 1999 22:32:29 -0400
> Subject: Horatio Theory
> RE: Horatio's assertion that he came to Elsinore to see Hamlet Sr.'s
> funeral --
> I have never believed that line. He is introduced in the first scene
> has having been brought to the ramparts (if not to Elsinore)
> specifically to interpret the meaning of the Ghost. "Thou
> art a scholar
> ..." His knowledge of theology and how to handle spirits were needed.
If we treat the fictive world of Hamlet as a real place for a moment,
then one possibility regarding Horatio is that he comes from the same
(or similar class) as the guards-they know him from before he went of to
College. At Wittenberg he, of course, knew Hamlet-and Hamlet kind of
Knew that there was yet another homeboy at school, but he (Hamlet),
being in a higher class than Horatio (both educationally and
socioeconomically), didn't pay him (Horatio) much mind. Although
speculative, there is some textual evidence to support such a "history,"
notably in Hamlet's greeting of Horatio (Horatio, or I forget myself)
which could sound as if he's trying to recall the name of someone he
knows from a distance. Equally, Horatio's comment about Old Hamlet (I
saw him once) certainly suggests that Horatio didn't spend much time
hanging around the court in his youth.
Of course, Andrew White's point about Horatio being there to interpret
and (my word) "certify" the ghost holds true, especially from a
dramaturgical point. That is, Shakespeare appears to want to make sure
that the audience believes in the ghost's existence as something
perceivable by many-and not just a manifestation of Hamlet's mind.
C. David Frankel
Visiting Assistant Professor
of Theatre/Academic Advisor
University of South Florida