Hamlets And Claudius Essay Research Paper Of

Hamlets And Claudius Essay, Research Paper

Of all the characters in Shakespeare?s Hamlet I find the role of Claudius to

be the most intriguing and crucial role in this tragedy. Claudius is the most

controversial, the most mysterious and the most talked about character in this

play. Many people look at Claudius and only see a villain, but there are

additional sides to him that are often overlooked. Claudius the father, the

husband, the ruler and the mortal individual. In this play the characters are

not super-human beings. They make mistakes, just as Claudius does, but it goes

to show that they are only human. Claudius, the father is very recognizable in

Scene 2 of Act 1. He states to Hamlet starting at Line 109 “?think of us

as of a father: for let the world take note, you are the most immediate to our

throne, and with no less nobility of love that that which dearest father bears

his son do I impart toward you.” Hamlet is “Our chiefest courtier,

cousin and our son.” (Line 119) Here Claudius is speaking to Hamlet and

saying that he is loved and accepted even since he is not Claudius’ natural son.

Claudius seems to have no trouble speaking to his son Hamlet in front of a

crowd. But when the two men are alone, Claudius is at a loss for words and

cannot figure out what to say, or when to say it. It could be that the King

feels so guilty about murdering King Hamlet that he is unable to speak to Hamlet

in private, for fear of his true self emerging. Along the same lines, Claudius

is also a great and sovereign leader. When young Fortinbras came to demand the

surrender of those lands lost by his father to King Hamlet, Claudius handled the

matter with such ease and grace. He informed Fortinbras that a letter was going

to be sent to the King of Norway telling him “?to suppress his (Fortinbras)

further gait herein.” (1. 2. 30.) Claudius realized that a war at the

beginning of his rule would not look good, especially since there had been the

thought of “incest” going around. He did not want to be blamed for

tainting the Queen?s bed and for destroying the mighty kingdom. Another

interesting thing about Claudius is that in his formal speeches he uses the

plural form of “we” implying that the crown also has a say in official

matters. Claudius, the husband is a little less easy to recognize, but still

just as important. The Queen is identified as “?our sometime sister, now

our queen, th? imperial jointress?” by Claudius (1. 2. 8.) The personal

life of the King and Queen is kept just that; not much is known of them outside

of what Hamlet says. Yet even that can not be taken seriously, for we do not

know the truth behind the matter. Beside what we do not know about the husband

in Claudius, we can be sure that he did treat Gertrude with respect and dignity

or she would not have stayed with him, or even married him in the first place.

The King is also a villain, a murderer, a conspirator and a liar. Claudius,

during Act 3, Scene 3, reveals to the readers that he did murder King Hamlet.

During Claudius? first few lines in Act 1 Scene 2 he says, “The memory be

green, and that it us befitted to bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom

to be contracted in one brow of woe?” and this is a bit ironic that he is

speaking of grief, especially since he is not grieving and he was the cause of

all the grief. During all that is going on in the play, we the readers realize

that Claudius is a mortal, human being. He has emotions, he makes mistakes and

he goes through trials. Claudius possesses a conscience, one which hardly makes

him cowardly but rather makes him an erring human being, not an inhumane

monster. Claudius states in Act 111 Scene 3 Lines 70-72 “O wretched state!

O bosom black as death; O limed soul, that struggling to be free art more

engag?d.” This quote shows how Claudius’ heart has changed due to his

actions and the reactions of others. His heart is heavy and black from all the

sin he has committed. He is not able to find a way for his actions to be

justified so he is somber and dismal. As compared to other characters Claudius

does not go through any drastic changes during the play. Yes it is true that the

“mouse trap” reveals the hidden side of Claudius, a side that should

not have been shown. He only becomes a little upset and then eventually gets

over it. Claudius in fact remains a strong and solid character throughout the

play, who’s presence can be felt in every action that Hamlet makes. Claudius

also has a very significant role in this play. He killed King Hamlet and

therefore is the reason for the “conflict.” Claudius was involved in

the “rising action” of the play which included the “mouse

trap” and in the “falling action” of the play which included the

plot for the murder of Hamlet. The “climax” also revolves around the

character of Claudius; if he had not been on his knees asking God for

forgiveness, he would have been murdered. Claudius also caused the murder of

Gertrude and the slaying of Hamlet and of himself; which led to the end of the

play. Claudius, despite being the alleged “bad guy”, has many similar

qualities in which “tragic hero” or Hamlet possesses. These two men

are murderers, conspirators and liars, but they also are passionate men. They

both possesses a quality to love and cherish Gertrude in a unique and special

way. These men are both strong and influential characters. Hamlet gets what he

wants in avenging his father’s “cruel and unnatural murder.” Claudius

also carries out his plans for murder, but both plots turn out differently than

one would expect. The enemy emerged in this play and we the readers had no

choice but to dislike Claudius. He killed the King, stole the King’s wife and

took the throne all in a matter of three weeks. Claudius was not born a villain,

but due to his actions and the kingdom’s reactions, he became a murderous brute.

Claudius was very dexterous and clever. He concealed his true feelings very

well. The only breakdown he made was during the “mouse trap” which

eventually led to the downfall of his kingdom and the deaths of innocent people.

This man was evil and he was good. Due to all the extenuating circumstances that

Claudius faced, he emerged with a desire, a desire and a passion for revenge.

Claudius had the need to always be in control, but he could not control Hamlet.

This control obsession led to the deaths of two Kings, two sons, two fathers,

two husbands, a step-father, a wife, a mother, a daughter and two ambassadors,

nine in total. This tragedy’s whole plot revolved around resolving one incident.

King Hamlet’s murder by Claudius preceded the play, and Claudius’ actions to

murder Hamlet conclude the play. This character, in my opinion, is one of the

greatest good turned-bad turned-even worse characters of all time. His strength

to get through all of the circumstances in this play is tremendous. In the end,

Claudius was the cause of nine deaths, including himself. Claudius’ obsession

for control and power ruined one of the greatest kingdoms in history.