Are there any acceptable reasons to lie to a friend? This question brings us to the issue of true friendship. In the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, the relationship between Hamlet and Horatio as well as the relationship between Hamlet with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are presented. These relationships are portrayed by the occasion on which the friends meet, the method in which Hamlet’s friends treat him, and how they act towards him. From these incidents, Horatio proves to be a better friend to Hamlet than either Rosencrantz or Guildenstern.
As the play develops, we see that Horatio treats Hamlet with more kindness than both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. This is exemplified in Horatio’s actions in particular, his first meeting with Hamlet where he informed Hamlet about his father’s ghost, then advised him not to follow the ghost, and helped him perform the mousetrap in order to prove Claudius’ guilt in the murder of King Hamlet. In the beginning, after witnessing the appearance of King Hamlet’s ghost, Horatio informs Hamlet of what he saw. “I think I saw [your father] yesternight.” (I, ii, 188). The fact, that Horatio would tell his friend that he saw the ghost of his dead father every day for the last week proved that Horatio cared for Hamlet. Next, Horatio tried to protect Hamlet by warning him of possible dangers that could arise if he followed his father’s ghost.
Hamlet: “It will not speak, then I will follow it”
Horatio: “Do not, my lord…What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,/ Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff.” (I, iv, 62-63, 69-70)
From this scene, Horatio is shown to be protecting Hamlet from dangers that could occur, an act that a true friend would carry out. Finally, Horatio helped Hamlet to perform the mousetrap in order to determine if Claudius really killed King Hamlet.
Hamlet: “one scene of it comes near the circumstances which [Hamlet] have told [Horatio] of [his] father’s death… Observe [Claudius]: if his occulted guilt.”
Horatio: “well, my lord:/ If [Claudius] steal aught the whilst this play is playing,/ And ‘scape detecting, [Horatio] will pay the theft.” (III, ii, 75-76,79, 87-88)
In this act, Horatio has agreed to team up with Hamlet, and defy his allegiance to the King of Denmark, to see if the Claudius killed King Hamlet. These events are evidence of the true friendship Horatio has with Hamlet.
During the play, Hamlet is also introduced to his childhood friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Though they have known each other from a young age, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern prove not to be as true in their friendship to Hamlet as Horatio. This is evidenced by their reason come to Denmark, their first meeting with Hamlet, and the way in which they treated him. When Rosencrantz and Guildenstern arrive in Denmark they are welcomed by Claudius and Gertrude because they were sent for by the King and Queen. “Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern… The need we have to use you did provoke/ Our hasty sending.” (II, ii, 1, 3-4). Since Rosencrantz and Guildenstern came to Denmark because they were called upon, and did not come on their own free will, this proves that they are not true friends to Hamlet. Next, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern agreed to Claudius and Gertrude’s proposal to spy on Hamlet.
Claudius: “… and to gather, …Whether aught to us unknown afflicts him thus,”
Guildenstern: “But we obey” (II, ii, 15-18, 29)
Since Rosencrantz and Guildenstern agreed to spy on Hamlet, their own friend, this reveals that they are not true friends. Finally, after Hamlet figured out that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were sent to spy on him did they finally confess “my Lord, we were sent for.” (II, ii, 292). After the truth came out, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern tried to make Hamlet feel better because he felt that he was in a prison living in Denmark because the ghost told Hamlet of his murder and the adulterous relationship Gertrude had with Claudius. From examining the events surrounding the relationships of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with Hamlet, it is plain to see that they were not good friends to Hamlet.
In comparing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern relationship with Hamlet to Horatio’s relationship with Hamlet, it is clear that Horatio was a better friend. From the initial meeting of the two sets of friends to how they treated the main character, Horatio proved to be kinder to Hamlet throughout. First of all, the fact that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are called to Denmark by the King and Queen and did not come because they wanted to see their friend is very telling of the level of friendship they have with Hamlet. This is unlike Horatio, who goes out and seeks Hamlet in order to tell him about his father. Secondly, Hamlet shows his trust towards Horatio when he indulges his plan to figure out if Claudius killed his father.
This is in contrast to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who agreed to help Claudius figure out what was wrong with Hamlet. Finally, Horatio wanted to protect Hamlet from dangers when he warned him that something negative could possibly happen if he followed the ghost. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern only acted nicely to Hamlet once he figured out that they were sent to spy on him. These events provide evidence that Horatio was a better friend to Hamlet than Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were.
In conclusion, from comparing the relationship between Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with Hamlet versus the relationship of Horatio with Hamlet, the evidence viewed, such as his first encounter with Hamlet, the way the main character is treated, and how the friends act with him, showed that Horatio was a true friend to Hamlet. Though, a person may make many friends throughout their lifetime, their actions provide the evidence that is used to determine who are in fact true friends.