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A Hamlet timeline – chronicle of events

      Setting the Timeline – considerations

Claudius – planning my foul murder

King Hamlet's funeral – where was Hamlet?

Gertrude & Claudius – adultery or not?

Horatio – Hamlet's friend?

Horatio – is he passion's slave?

Polonius – the evil that men do

Ophelia's love? – did she love Hamlet?

Ophelia closetted – Polonius on love

      O help xxx ....... – Olivier's version

Ophelia's change – is Hamlet suspicious?

Hamlet feigns madness – protective "cover"

Is Hamlet mad? – Polonius's opinion

The Trial of Claudius – Hamlet's prosecution

Hamlet kills Polonius – stabs the "Voice"

Laertes v Hamlet – poisoned foil

Ophelia's death – a recipe

Hamlet's age – digging up the past

Yorick – something rotting in Denmark

Betting on Hamlet – the fencing match

Hamlet's fencing skill – better than Laertes

Hamlet's revenge – the rest is silence

Horatio — that is not passion's slave?

Horatio is a nice guy but he is unreliable, evasive, and not particularly bright.

Horatio is evasive!

Hamlet asks Horatio why he has returned from Wittenberg. Before Horatio can reply Hamlet breaks off to greet the others but then repeats the question. Horatio attempts a childish deflection but Hamlet asks another question and Horatio has to answer. Even this answer irks Hamlet who then suggests the real reason and this finally drags a more sober admission from Horatio.

Hamlet: And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio? — Marcellus?
Marcellus: My good lord, —
Hamlet: I am very glad to see you. — Good even, sir. —
But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?
Horatio: A truant disposition, good my lord.
Hamlet: ..... I know you are no truant,
But what is your affair in Elsinore?
We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.
Horatio: My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.
Hamlet: I pray thee, do not mock me, fellow student;
I think it was to see my mother's wedding.
Horatio: Indeed, my lord, it follow'd hard upon.

Horatio's evasion of straight answers show him to be much the same as other courtiers. Compare the procrastination of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern:

Hamlet: ..... in the beaten way of friendship, what make you at Elsinore?
Rosencrantz: To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.
Hamlet: Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I thank you; and sure, dear friends, my thanks are too dear a halfpenny. Were you not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come, deal justly with me. Come, come! Nay, speak.
Guildenstern: What should we say, my lord?
Hamlet: Why, anything — but to th' purpose. You were sent for; and there is a kind of confession in your looks, which your modesties have not craft enough to colour. I know the good King and Queen have sent for you.
Rosencrantz: To what end, my lord?
Hamlet: That you must teach me. But let me conjure you by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth, by the obligation of our ever-preserved love, and by what more dear a better proposer could charge you withal, be even and direct with me, whether you were sent for or no.
Rosencrantz: [aside to Guildenstern] What say you?
Hamlet: [aside] Nay then, I have an eye of you. — If you love me, hold not off.
Guildenstern: My lord, we were sent for.

Horatio is mistaken!

Denmark is expecting a Norwegian invasion. Two highly experienced watchmen are diligently performing their duties. Each says he has seen an apparition twice but Horatio repeatedly disbelieves them. While they are trying for a third time to convince him the Ghost arrives.

Marcellus: Horatio says 'tis but our fantasy,
And will not let belief take hold of him
Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us.
Therefore I have entreated him along,
With us to watch the minutes of this night,
That, if again this apparition come,
He may approve our eyes and speak to it.
Horatio: Tush, tush, 'twill not appear.
Bernardo: Sit down awhile,
And let us once again assail your ears,
That are so fortified against our story,
What we two nights have seen.

Horatio is not very observant.

A watchman's most acute faculty is his hearing. If the night is pitch black his hearing is all he can use. If there is moonlight, he will stay in the shadows, otherwise the enemy will see him and kill him. Once again he relies on his hearing. Horatio doesn't hear the clock strike but the watchman Marcellus hears it.

Hamlet: What hour now?
Horatio: I think it lacks of twelve.
Marcellus: No, it is struck.
Horatio: Indeed? I heard it not.

Horatio is not bright.

When Hamlet is told of the Ghost he does not argue against it but can accept the possibility of an apparition. Intellectually, Hamlet is way ahead of Horatio and he tries to expand Horatio's thinking.

Hamlet: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Horatio is unreliable.

Ophelia is mad and the King orders Horatio to attend her. But does Horatio follow the King's orders? No! He goes off to meet Hamlet and while he is away Ophelia falls into the brook and is drowned.

King: Follow her close; give her good watch, I pray you. [Exit Horatio.]

To be fair, Horatio may have ensured that Ophelia was escorted during his absence. Both he and Gertrude each received a letter from Hamlet delivered by the sailors. Together, they may have agreed that Horatio go off to meet Hamlet while Gertrude watch Ophelia, hence, Horatio's absence and Gertrude's presence when Ophelia fell into the brook.

Horatio is equivocal.

Hamlet: There is a play to-night before the King.
One scene of it comes near the circumstance,
Which I have told thee, of my father's death.
I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,
Even with the very comment of thy soul
Observe my uncle ..... Give him heedful note;

After the play, Horatio's answers are so vague he says next to nothing:

Hamlet: O good Horatio, I'll take the ghost's word for a thousand pound! Didst perceive?
Horatio: Very well, my lord.
Hamlet: Upon the talk of the poisoning?
Horatio: I did very well note him.

Horatio is hot-headed.

Near the end of the play, Horatio attempts suicide but Hamlet forcibly stops him.

Horatio: I am more an antique Roman than a Dane.
Here's yet some liquor left.
Hamlet: As th'art a man,
Give me the cup. Let go! By heaven, I'll ha't.

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