In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the main character in the play is brought into a state of melancholy and depression over his father’s death and his mother’s incestuous marriage with his father’s brother. This causes Hamlet to seek counsel in his friendship with Horatio because of his loyalty and good qualities. Other characters in the play are willing to sacrifice their friendship with Hamlet to gain the favour of the new king, Claudius.
When Hamlet chases after the ghost of his father, Horatio illustrates the strength of his friendship with Hamlet when he is concerned about his wellbeing. Horatio does not wish that Hamlet’s interest in the ghost will cause him any harm by the supernatural. It is evident that the friendship between the two characters is well established. In addition, Horatio’s resolute swearing of silence about the matter of King Hamlet’s ghost is an indication that he has a close friendship with Hamlet. This is because Horatio desires what is best for Hamlet and does not wish to intervene in whatever actions will follow.
It is evident that Hamlet can trust no one in the play with the exception of Horatio. All of the other characters have a stronger allegiance with Claudius, the king, who wishes to exploit any opportunity to get rid of Hamlet. Unlike these other characters, Horatio is extremely loyal to Hamlet and even helps him in identifying Claudius as the murder of his father. Horatio also does not reveal to the Claudius that Hamlet is only feigning madness, which shows his loyalty and Hamlet’s trust in telling him this information. This also demonstrates how highly Horatio values his friendship with Hamlet over his relationship with Claudius. In contrast, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern change their loyal to Claudius to seek prestige, demonstrating that they are not true friends to Hamlet. As a result, Hamlet shows his respect for loyalty when he changes the letter they carry ordering his death to order the deaths of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Hamlet values Horatio’s qualities and respects him for his attributes. According to Hamlet, it is because of Horatio’s qualities that Hamlet chooses him as his friend, stating that “, “Give me that man / That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him / In my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart, / As I do thee”. Hamlet respects this because Horatio possesses the qualities, such as the balance between reason and action, which Hamlet does not have. If Hamlet had possessed such qualities, he would have been able to revenge his father and kill Claudius, which is the reason for his admiration of Horatio.
Horatio is the only character in the play that Hamlet is able to consider a friend that he can trust and confide in. The qualities of Horatio as well as his loyalty are respected by Hamlet while other characters are disloyal and do not have strong morals.
There are many ways to interpret Hamlet's relationship with Horatio.
Most obviously, Horatio is the only person in the play that Hamlet trusts. He is the only one who knows for certain that Hamlet's madness is an act, the one person Hamlet confides in personally, and the one whom bids Hamlet goodnight upon his death. Considering his conflicts with his family, Horatio is the only "family" Hamlet has. He understands that Horatio is very rational and thoughtful, yet not overly pensieve like himself.
In this way, Hamlet relies on Horatio, making the friendship interestingly one-sided. At no point in the play does Horatio show that he needs Hamlet. Rather than being, as Horatio is of significantly lower class than Hamlet, a literal servant, he serves Hamlet with his emotional support, rationality, and unwavering loyalty. In some respects, Hamlet and Horatio's relationship can be interpreted as servitude.
Finally comes the question of whether Horatio was in love with Hamlet. Shakespeare was often rumored to have homosexual tendencies and some sonnets are credited to be written about young boys, so it is entirely possible that Horatio posessed a romantic love for Hamlet, at least to some degree. There are many lines, particularly the famous "good night, sweet prince" that could be interpreted as romantic. If Horatio did have homosexual tendecies, it would make perfect sense that he would fall in love with his (assumedly) handsome Prince who relied on him for everything.
Again, there are many ways to interpret the relatioship between Hamlet and Horatio. The one that connects every theory is that there is definitely and absolutely a deep, profound trust, kinship, and love between them.