Horatio is a friend of Hamlet’s, a fellow student at Wittenberg University.
He is well-known enough in Elsinore for Marcellus and Barnardo to go to him for advice about the ghost they have seen. He is both learned and skeptical, not entirely willing to believe in every legend about the supernatural but knowing the habitual reasons why ghosts return from the grave. Though Hamlet has not seen him since he came from Wittenberg for Old Hamlet’s funeral, he soon becomes the prince’s one confidant. He is cautious about the ghost, afraid of its intentions, but accepts Hamlet’s vouching of its good faith. He does not give in much to emotion. He watches Claudius throughout the performance of the play and is convinced of his guilt. He is the first witness of Ophelia’s madness and convinces Gertrude to accept to see her. He goes to greet Hamlet on his secret return to Denmark. Hamlet considers him his best friend; he contemplates suicide at the catastrophic outcome of the duel, though insisting that he does so in a stoical manner rather than out of passion. Hamlet convinces him to live so as to tell the world the story, which he will do.