Hamlet

Horatio Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Hamlet’s closest friend and most trusted confidant. Horatio wants to help Hamlet get to the root of his father’s loss and take vengeance upon his murderer, but as Hamlet descends into inaction, volatility, and apparent madness, Horatio worries that Hamlet is getting in too deep and tries to warn his friend against risking his reputation and safety. Horatio urges Hamlet not to go through with the duel against Laertes, a warning that proves to be legitimate in the end, as Laertes’s plot with Claudius ends up killing Hamlet along with Ophelia and Laertes and Claudius themselves. While Hamlet is dying after Laertes stabs him with a poisoned sword, Horatio contemplates committing suicide by drinking from the same cup of poisoned wine Hamlet used to kill Claudius, demonstrating the deep loyalty he feels for Hamlet and his despair over losing his friend. However, Hamlet prevents Horatio from doing so, urging him to live on and share the truth of Hamlet’s story with the world.

Horatio Quotes in Hamlet

The Hamlet quotes below are all either spoken by Horatio or refer to Horatio. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Hamlet published in 1992.
Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

Thrift, thrift, Horatio! The funeral baked meats
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.

Related Characters: Hamlet (speaker), Claudius, Gertrude, Horatio
Page Number: 1.2.187-188
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 1, Scene 4 Quotes

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Related Characters: Marcellus (speaker), Hamlet, The Ghost, Horatio
Page Number: 1.4.100
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 1, Scene 5 Quotes

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

Related Characters: Hamlet (speaker), Horatio
Page Number: 1.5.187-188
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 5, Scene 1 Quotes

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio—a fellow of infinite jest… Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar?

Related Characters: Hamlet (speaker), Horatio, Yorick
Related Symbols: Yorick’s Skull
Page Number: 5.1.190-198
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

We defy augury. There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all.

Related Characters: Hamlet (speaker), Horatio
Page Number: 5.2.233-237
Explanation and Analysis:
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Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Related Characters: Horatio (speaker), Hamlet
Page Number: 5.2.397-398
Explanation and Analysis:
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Horatio Character Timeline in Hamlet

The timeline below shows where the character Horatio appears in Hamlet. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Poison, Corruption, Death Theme Icon
...to leave and go to bed, Barnardo urges him to tell Marcellus, another sentinel, and Horatio, a nobleman, to join him at his post. Right at that moment, Horatio and Marcellus... (full context)
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Marcellus and Horatio sleepily greet Barnardo before asking him if the “thing” has “appeared again.” Marcellus says that... (full context)
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...the apparition, which is “in the same figure like the king that’s dead.” Marcellus urges Horatio, an educated “scholar” to speak to the ghost. Horatio confesses that he is full of... (full context)
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After the ghost exits, Barnardo remarks upon how pale Horatio looks, and asks the man if he’s all right. Horatio admits that he is shaken.... (full context)
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Marcellus says he agrees with Horatio—he and the other sentinels have noticed how strict their schedule of nightly watches has become... (full context)
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Just then, the ghost reappears. As it heads for Horatio, Horatio orders it to stop. The ghost stops short and spreads his arms wide. Horatio... (full context)
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All three men lament having lost the chance to communicate with the ghost. Horatio urges Marcellus and Barnardo to accompany him to Hamlet’s quarters to tell the prince of... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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Horatio, Marcellus, and Barnardo enter and greet Hamlet. Hamlet clearly hasn’t seen Horatio, his friend from... (full context)
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Horatio begins telling Hamlet about how a ghost which bears a striking resemblance to Hamlet’s father... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
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That night, Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus stand on the ramparts of Elsinore in the bitter cold, waiting for the... (full context)
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The ghost suddenly appears, and Horatio urges Hamlet to address it. Hamlet begins speaking to the apparition, begging to know if... (full context)
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Horatio begs Hamlet at length not to follow the ghost, as it may have devious designs... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 5
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Horatio and Marcellus at last catch up with Hamlet and breathlessly ask him what the ghost... (full context)
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Hamlet invites Horatio and Marcellus to touch his sword and swear that no matter how strangely Hamlet acts... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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Horatio enters, and Hamlet expresses how glad he is to see his true friend. Horatio is... (full context)
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Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
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...he is leaving. Polonius orders the players to stop the performance. Everyone but Hamlet and Horatio follows Claudius out of the hall. (full context)
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Hamlet is merry and mischievous as he asks Horatio if he saw how Claudius fled at the sight of his own dirty deeds reflected... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 5
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Gertrude, Horatio, and a member of court are in the hall of Elsinore. The courtier tells Gertrude... (full context)
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...what has happened. Bidding Claudius and Gertrude “good night,” she leaves the hall. Claudius asks Horatio to follow Ophelia and keep an eye on her. After Horatio leaves, Claudius tells Gertrude... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 6
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Elsewhere in the halls of Elsinore, Horatio receives two sailors who come with a letter from abroad—the missive is from Hamlet, and... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
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...inside and fetch them both some liquor to drink while they work. Soon, Hamlet and Horatio approach the graveyard to find the first gravedigger singing as he digs. Hamlet is amazed... (full context)
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...jester. Hamlet picks up the skull and examines it more closely, then cries out to Horatio that he once knew Yorick—in life, “a fellow of infinite jest” who used to entertain... (full context)
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Hamlet asks Horatio if he thinks even Alexander the Great came to look—and smell—like the poor Yorick after... (full context)
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...and a priest approach bearing a coffin. Noticing the plainness of the procession, Hamlet tells Horatio that whomever the group is burying must have committed suicide, but was still of noble... (full context)
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...Ophelia’s grave. Laertes curses Hamlet, and the two of them begin fighting. Claudius, Gertrude, and Horatio all beg for the men to stop fighting, and a pair of courtiers separate them.... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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Inside Elsinore, Hamlet tells Horatio the story of his escape from the ship bound for England. Even though Hamlet was... (full context)
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Horatio is stunned by Claudius’s cunning and cruelty. Hamlet says he is more determined than ever... (full context)
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A young courtier named Osric enters and greets Hamlet. Hamlet quietly tells Horatio that Osric is a “water-fly” and a fool in spite of the great parcels of... (full context)
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As Osric runs off, Horatio and Hamlet mock him—but then Horatio tells Hamlet he has a bad feeling about the... (full context)
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...to the “wretched queen,” and laments that “Death is strict in his arrest.” He begs Horatio to tell his story. Horatio picks up the poisoned cup of wine, seemingly desiring to... (full context)
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...Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead—but there is no one important left to hear the news. Horatio points to Claudius and says that even if he were still alive, he would not... (full context)