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?
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?
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,
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 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,
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.
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 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.