Horatio as Author: Storytelling and Stoic Tragedy in Hamlet

  • Jeffrey R. WilsonEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Shakespeare Studies book series (PASHST)


This essay addresses Horatio’s emotionlessness in light of his role as a narrator, using this discussion to think about Shakespeare’s motives for writing tragedy in the wake of his son’s death. By rationalizing pain and suffering as tragedy, both Horatio and Shakespeare were able to avoid the self-destruction entailed in Hamlet’s emotional response to life’s hardships and injustices. Thus, the stoic Horatio, rather than the passionate Hamlet who repeatedly interrupts ‘The Mousetrap’, is the best authorial avatar for a Shakespeare who strategically wrote himself and his own voice out of his works. This argument then expands into a theory of ‘authorial catharsis’ and the suggestion that we can conceive of Shakespeare as a ‘poet of reason’ in contrast to a ‘poet of emotion’.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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