In Act 1 Scene 1 Horatio and Marcellus join Bernardo on the battlement of Elsinore so that they may witness the ghost if he reappears. When the ghost leaves without having spoken to any of the men there, Horatio declares:
‘and by my advice
Let us impart what we have seen tonight
Unto young Hamlet; for, upon my life,
his spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,
As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?’
Horatio is clearly bound by duty and his friendship with Hamlet to tell him exactly what he has seen.
Horatio gets the opportunity to give this news to his friend in Act 1 Scene 2. Hamlet tells the former that he sees his father ‘in my mind’s eye’. When Horatio tells him that he has seen Old Hamlet ‘yesternight’, Hamlet is surely shocked: ‘The King, my father!’
Horatio, like a good friend, wants Hamlet to calm down and he tells him:
‘Season your admiration for a while
With an attent ear, till I may deliver,
Upon the witness of these gentlemen
This marvel to you.’
They discuss the events together with Marcellus; and Hamlet carefully questions his friend about every detail. Horatio patiently replies and they decide to go back to the battlements together that night – ‘Perchance ‘twill walk again’.
We meet Hamlet, Horatio and Marcellus on the battlements once again in Act 1 Scene 4. We can see Horatio’s true concern for his friend as the ghost beckons Hamlet away:
‘What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff
That beetles o’er his base into the sea,
And there assume some other horrible form,
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason
And draw you into madness? Think of it;
They very place puts toys of desperation,
Without more motive, into every brain
That looks so many fathoms to the sea
And hears it roar beneath.’
Hamlet will not heed the advice given to him and tells Horatio and Marcellus to ‘Unhand me, gentlemen.’ He even insists ‘I’ll make a ghost of him that lets me’.
Being faithful friends of Hamlet, Horatio and Marcellus follow him. In the final scene of Act 1, Horatio tries to comfort Hamlet who is filled with ‘wild and whirling words’ after speaking with his father. Hamlet asks that Horatio and Marcellus keep his confidence when he tells them:
‘Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,
How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself,
As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on,
That you, at such times, seeing me, never shall,
With arms encumber’d thus, or this head-shake,
Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,
As, ‘Well, well, we know’, or, ‘We could, an if we would’,
Or, ‘If we list to speak’, or, ‘There be, an if they might’,
Or such ambiguous giving out, to note
That you know aught of me: this not to do,
So grace and mercy at your most need help you,
His true friends can be trusted at this difficult time in Hamlet’s life.
Now, if this tells us a little about friendship in Hamlet, we still need to connect this to ‘How Many Miles to Babylon?’ and ‘Inside I’m Dancing’. What key moments in these two texts illustrate friends who can be trusted and relied upon? Try to use some linking phrases in your comments.