Every time I read the play Hamlet, I can’t help but question the relationship between Hamlet and Horatio. The term bromance has been used to describe other relationships between men in the plays we have studied so far, but to me this relationship seems to go deeper than that. This deeper relationship also seems to be more one sided with Horatio’s feelings and devotion not being reciprocated by Hamlet.
In the opening acts of the play Horatio says “Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it, As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?” (1.1.153). The word love is used many times while Horatio is talking about Hamlet. I know that I love my friends, and I might even say it to them, but it’s not just the words that Horatio speaks that makes me question, it is his actions as well. Horatio is devoted to Hamlet, continually at his service ready to serve him. This does not seem like something one does just for a friend, I mean I know that I would not. I am trying to remember that this was written in a different time, but that still does not seem to help.
The exchange between the two men towards the beginning of Act 3 scene 2 seems to bring me back to the questioning. Horatio seems to be using terms of endearment when addressing Hamlet, and Hamlet responds, “Nay, do not think I flatter; For what advancement may I hope from thee That no revenue hast but thy good spirits, To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flattered? No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp, And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee Where thrift may follow fawning” (3.2.49). He continues on to say “Give me that man
That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him In my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart, As I do thee” (3.2.64). To me these are mixed signals, and very confusing about the way that Hamlet feels towards Horatio. It also leads me to question if Hamlet knows that Horatio’s feelings for him are more than just a friend.
I know that there are many things that I would do for my best friends, but there is a point where I draw the line. The things that Horatio does for Hamlet are things that I would do for my significant other, not my friends which leads me back to my questioning.