Evans, Robert C. Friendship in Hamlet.
Comparative Drama 33 (1999): 88-124.
AUDIENCE RESPONSE / FRIENDSHIP
This article modestly hopes to establish the general importance of
friendship in Hamlet by showing its presence throughout the
entire play (88). The opening scene initiates the plays theme:
Barnardo, Francisco, and Horatio begin to form a bond, which is strengthened
by the shared experience of the Ghosts appearance. The interaction
among these friends works dramatically to contrast sharply with Hamlets
social isolation in the following scene and to present Horatio with
the potential of becoming a good friend to Hamlet. The friendship between
Hamlet and Horatio that develops throughout the play eloquently culminates
in the final scene; but the Hamlet/Horatio relationship is not the only
example of friendship treated. Ophelia / Laertes, Hamlet / Rosencrantz
/ Guildenstern, Hamlet / Ghost, Hamlet / players, Claudius / Laertes,
the gravediggers, as well as Hamlet / Laertes all receive attention.
Line-by-line analysis of dialogue among these friends, potential friends,
and false friends highlights linguistic ambiguity; but the multiple
meanings behind every word illustrates the difficulty of making
clear, unambiguous interpretations of others motivesa difficulty
relevant to the friendship theme (105). Through their interactions,
Shakespeares characters easily seem as complex as our own
friends or ourselves (119).
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