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Friendship in Shakespeare

August 4, 2017

An excerpt from an OUPblog article published 30th July 2017:
Eugène Delacroix: “Hamlet und Horatio auf dem Friedhof”, 1835 from Städel Museum.

"In Shakespeare’s England, the term “friend” could be used to express a wide range of interpersonal relations. A friend could be anything from a neighbour, a lover, or fellow countryman, to a family member or the close personal acquaintance we understand as a “friend” today. Much like power or love, different types of friendship are one of the central themes in Shakespeare’s plays, dealing with the positivity of close and trusting friendships, but also with its fragility and the resultant dangers when trust breaks down.

Being a true Shakespearean friend means above all loyalty, unwavering support, and mutual respect – clearly shown in the relationship between Hamlet and Horatio. Horatio is Hamlet’s one true ally and stands by the tragic Prince throughout his troubles, going so far as to offer to commit suicide for him. This tragic conclusion seems to be a pattern for many Shakespearean friends, revealing the darker side of human relationships ..."

Read more on the OUPblog >

Image credit: Eugène Delacroix: “Hamlet und Horatio auf dem Friedhof”, 1835 from Städel Museum. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.


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