Uneasy lies the Head that Wears the Crown … Especially if he got it through sibling-cide and quasi-incest. Make that evil stepfather: Is it just us, or did it just get really cold in here?
Introduction to Claudius in Hamlet As with all the supporting characters in Hamlet, Claudius is not developed to his full potential. His primary role in the play is to spawn Hamlet's confusion and anger, and his subsequent search for truth and life's meaning.
But Claudius is not a static character. While his qualities are not as thoroughly explored as Hamlet's, Shakespeare crafts a whole human being out of the treacherous, usurping King of Denmark. When we first see Claudius, he strikes us an intelligent and capable ruler.
He gives a speech to make his court and country proud, addressing his brother's death and the potential conflict with Norway.
Claudius knows that a change in government could ignite civil unrest, and he is afraid of possible unlawful allegiances and rebellion. Claudius has assumed the role of the chief mourner, and the people can unite behind a collective suffering. He can now concentrate on his kingly duties, and he takes immediate and decisive action by sending Cornelius and Voltimand to appease the Norwegian king.
Hamlet and claudius also deals skilfully with Laertes' request to leave for France. But Claudius, in private, is a very different person. The Ghost refers to him as "that incestuous, that adulterate beast" 1.
Claudius represents the worst in human nature -- lust, greed, corruption, and excess. Claudius and his corrupt court bask in the pleasures of the flesh: The king doth wake tonight and takes his rouse, Keeps wassail, and the swaggering up-spring reels; And as he drains his draughts of Renish down, The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out The triumph of his pledge 1.
His deeds, on occasion, weigh heavy on his heart: How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience! The harlot's cheek, beautied with plastering art, Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it Than is my deed to my most painted word: My fault is past.
But O, what form of prayer Can serve my turn? Forgive me my foul murder? That cannot be, since I am still possess'd Of those effects for which I did the murder, My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
He is genuinely sorry for Polonius' death, and he truly loves Gertrude. He must kill Hamlet, but he refuses to do so with his own hand for Gertrude's sake.
He also sincerely likes Ophelia, and treats her with the kindness that she should receive from her great love, Hamlet.
But even those whom Claudius cares for cannot come before his ambition and desires. He will use the grieving Laertes to whatever ends necessary, and he denies Rozencrantz and Guildenstern the knowledge of the contents of the letter to England -- knowledge that would have saved their lives, or at least made them proceed with caution.
And Claudius does not stop Gertrude from drinking the poison in the goblet during the duel between Hamlet and Laertes because it will implicate him in the plot.
It is clear that we are intended to see Claudius as a murderous villain, but a multi-faceted villain: He is not a monster; he is morally weak, content to trade his humanity and very soul for a few prized possessions.
As the great critic Harley Granville-Barker observes: Hill and Wang, Oslo University Press, King Claudius, as seen in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is both intelligent and well-spoken, two traits that, put together, complement his manipulative and dangerous nature. In fact though, it is his conscience that makes Claudius such a complex villain.
Despite his rise to power seeming to have. 5 Polonius is not a major character in the sense that Hamlet and Claudius are: yet he is apparently a leading figure in the court, he is directly or indirectly involved in much of the main action, and his accidental murder at Hamlet's. King Claudius is a fictional character and the primary antagonist of William Shakespeare's tragedy lausannecongress2018.com is the brother to King Hamlet, second husband to Gertrude and uncle and later stepfather to Prince lausannecongress2018.com obtained the throne of Denmark by murdering his own brother with poison and then marrying the late king's widow.
He is loosely based on the Jutish chieftain Feng who appears in. The Royal Shakespeare Company's award-winning production of Hamlet, directed by RSC Chief Associate Director Gregory Doran, stars David Tennant (Doctor Who) in the title role.
A history of Shakespeare's Hamlet and its literary sources. The following essay was originally published in The World's Best Essays from the Earliest Period to the Present lausannecongress2018.com David J.
Hypocrisy barely bothers Claudius: he pretends to be a loving stepfather to Hamlet even while sending him off to be killed.
Claudius doesn't let his conscience get in the way of the job that needs to be done.