In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, various characters manipulate others in order to gain power and fulfill their personal desires. The character who portrays the most immense manipulation is King Claudius, the brother of the late King Hamlet. Thus far, Claudius advertises himself as a sensible, honorable man who lives to serve the greater good, yet his manipulation exposes his dubious intentions, leaving him with an unfortunate fate.
Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, begins as an admired and noble young man. However, fate and the turn of events lead the tragic hero the depths of his fortunes. The tragedy starts with the death of the heroic King Hamlet. His brother, Claudius is the successor as King of Denmark and married the protagonist’s mother. When a ghost of the late King Hamlet appears, Hamlet’s downfall begins. The ghost explains to Hamlet that Claudius killed his father “upon my secure hour thy uncle stole with juice of cursed hebona in a vial, and in the porches of my ears did pour the leperous distilment, whose effect holds such an enmity with blood of man” (1001). Hamlet then feels like he must get revenge against Claudius and sets out to plot how it will happen. King Claudius senses something suspicious about Hamlet and sends for Hamlet’s two
In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, Hamlet, a studious young man and Prince of Denmark, struggles to face the death of his father and the task to kill his father’s murderer, Claudius. He was once known as a charming, smart young man before his father’s death. However, Hamlet experiences depression and anger at the world, causing him to look outwardly on society but failing to look inwardly on himself. The death of his father and the task for vengeance leads him to question whether or not he should follow through in killing Claudius. He becomes a man of thought rather than a man of action. In addition, the delay of King Claudius’ murder leads the readers to believe that he wishes not to kill him; he
This, in turn, exploits Hamlet’s similar flaw of ego and furthers the conflict, but what’s more, it illustrates Claudius’ sheer audacity and lack of repentance. He continues to try to cover up the sin and appease Hamlet into complacency rather than confess and ask for forgiveness. In a mark of pure arrogance, Claudius tells Hamlet to “throw to earth / This unprevailing woe and think of us / As of a father”, conceitedly requesting that Hamlet merely forget the murder and replace his father with the murderer himself (I, ii, 110-112). Similarly, instead of directly confronting Hamlet about his mental condition, the king more or less hires Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on the prince, again cementing his smug mindset. The king does not believe he can be caught or, rather, that Hamlet is competent enough to figure out his plan and foil him. Claudius, too, thinks only of himself after Hamlet’s inadvertent killing of Polonius, pondering “how shall this bloody deed be answered? / It will be laid to us” instead of considering the ramifications of the murder with respect to Hamlet (4.1.17-18). The other two paper-thin traps the king hatches only reinforce his failure to see beyond the apparent; his attempt to deport Hamlet to England and have him killed reeks of treachery and, luckily, Hamlet realizes the king’s subterfuge, crushing the plot and flipping it back on him. Claudius remains steadfast in his efforts to remove Hamlet, going so far as to set up a
Claudius is ultimately revealed as the antagonist of Hamlet because he removed the good from his life, becoming the prime opposition of Hamlet. He is then faced with the king’s direction to avenge his father’s death by doing anything it takes to reveal the crimes of Claudius. Although not the chief antagonist, another opposition to Hamlet is his mother, whose crime is also revealed by the deceased king Hamlet. The king tells Hamlet how his wife betrayed him when he comments, “whose love was of that dignity that it went hand in hand even with the vow I made to her in marriage, and to decline upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor to those of mine” (I.vi.786-791). Queen Gertrude has also crushed Hamlet’s belief of his mother’s faithfulness by forgetting her vows and looking to Claudius’ gifts and love when she should be remembering king Hamlet. Both Claudius and Gertrude threw Hamlet’s integral foundations out the window, leaving Hamlet infuriated and ready to do what it takes to avenge his father’s death and accuse his opposing family of their crime against him.
King Claudius's contribution to the conversation exacerbates the tension in the scene. When he refers to Hamlet as “my son “ Hamlet immediately rebuffs him, saying that he is “a little more kin and a little less kind”. The young prince feels aversion towards his malevolent stepfather who has taken over the role of the king and has also married his mother. Claudius does not try to console Hamlet or offer him any support. Instead he criticises behaviour and treats him like a stubborn ignorant child. In Claudius's long speech, refers to Hamlet’s grief as “unmanly“ suggestion that his actions are and fitting for a man. He also declares that his step-sons behaviour is “It shows a will most incorrect to heaven”. This is very offensive as he is saying that Hamlet is going against God's wishes. The sentences Claudius use in his speech clearly imply that his relationship with Hamlet is very distorted.The antagonist continues by adding “why should we in our peevish opposition/ Take it to heart?”. Claudius is acting in a very philosophical and inhuman as if his brother has not died recently. He sees death as a meaningless phase in life and that Hamlet should move on like he did. Two bold words jump out of his speech “unprevailing well“. He can’t feel the pain Hamlet is enduring and that’s why he thinks Hamlet is overreacting. Shakespeare has successfully sent us the message that Claudius is a very insensitive man and that Hamlet is feeling great aversion towards him and this is a reason why their relationship is very weak.
As the act progresses, Hamlet encounters the Ghost of his father, King Hamlet, who confessed the man who murdered him was not Fortenbraus but, his own brother, Claudius. The Ghost orders Hamlet not to permit "the royal bed of Denmark [to be] a Couch for luxury"(1.5.82). His father then vanishes and Hamlet enters a state of great rage and drives to complete his father’s task in aniliating Claudius. He is young so his “sinews, grow not instant old”(1.5.94) which gives him the physical strength. Hamlet is so focused on his task, he agreed to, "...wipe all trivial fond records"(1.5.99) and replace them with "...[King Hamlet's] commandment all alone..."(1.5.101). Shakespeare elaborates on the characterization of Hamlet in this soliloquy. The author not only displays Hamlet's anger and depression but, his determination in vanishing the injustice in his kingdom. To summarize, Shakespeare characterizes Hamlet by using imagery to express how Hamlet was originally depressed but, turned towards anger that later lead him to become vengeful.
In the beginning of the play, Claudius is portrayed as a cunning character who murders his own brother and marries his sister-in-law to attain the power of the crown, a power that he manages to craftily convince the people of Denmark belongs to him. It is not often that a softer side of Claudius is exposed to the audience, and when it is his views on religion and his own conduct come to light. This occurs during Claudius’ sole soliloquy, right after Hamlet has used the Mousetrap play to reveal to Claudius his knowledge of King Hamlet’s murder. Claudius considers the morality of his actions their religious implications when he admits that “[his] offense is rank, it smells to the heavens” (3.3.36). He identifies that his actions have been dishonest, and notices that his sins will most likely be noticed by God. He wants to repent for his actions, but doesn’t know if it is possible, wondering if “there (is) not rain enough in the sweet heavens / To wash (his hand covered in his brothers’ blood) white as snow” (3.3.45-6). He has to beg his body, “bow, stubborn knees, and, heart with strings of steel, / Be soft as sinews of the newborn babe” (3.3.70-1). Although he is begging his body to change, his subconscious is preventing him from bending his knees and softening his heart, therefore preventing him from acting on
Claudius also seems like a respectable king because he mourns the death of King Hamlet and tells “[the] whole kingdom to be contracted in one brow of woe” (21). Although Claudius seems to be a good king who is deeply saddened by the death of the late King Hamlet, he is actually a horrible man who murdered King Hamlet in a way “most foul,...strange and unnatural” (57). He took his crown and acted as if his death was an accident. Claudius makes it difficult for Hamlet to uncover the truth behind his actions because he constantly acts like nothing is ever wrong. After many different plots against Claudius, Hamlet prevails and the real Claudius is exposed. Claudius played an important role in the play because he reinforced the motif Seems Versus Is and showed the reader that although people can come across as honest and respectable, deep down they can have an evil side.
William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Hamlet relays Hamlet’s quest to avenge the murder of his father, the king of Denmark. The late King Hamlet was murdered by his brother, Claudius, who took the throne and Hamlet’s mother Gertrude for himself. Hamlet is beseeched by the ghost of his father to take vengeance upon Claudius; while he swears to do so, the prince inexplicably delays killing Claudius for months on end. Hamlet’s feeble attempt to first confirm his uncle’s guilt with a play that recounts the murder and his botched excuses for not killing Claudius when the opportunity arises serve as testimony to Hamlet’s true self. Hamlet is riddled with doubt towards the validity of the ghost and his own ability to carry out the act necessary to
In the play Hamlet, Claudius is known as the villain of the play. He is the lead antagonist who is characterized as a cunning, incestuous, and vile, usurper. Many readers and critics of the play do not dispute this perception, especially after reading how Claudius became the King of Denmark; He steals the throne by poisoning his brother, the previous king, and quickly marrying Queen Gertrude his widowed sister in law (1.5.42, 60-74). The general reading of Claudius’s character paints him to be a corrupt, cowardly politician, in addition to being Hamlet’s (the protagonist) foe. This portrait engages first-time readers to judge Claudius immediately and although this perspective of his personality is proven to be true, it is limited. Claudius
Claudius’ lies are effective enough to persistently deceive to play’s antagonist, Hamlet. Despite Hamlet’s disgust with Claudius for marrying Gertrude, and his view of Claudius as “a king of shreds and patches” (III.iv.104), Hamlet suspicion of Claudius as a murderer is preliminarily nonexistent. The appearance of a spirit claiming to be Hamlet’s dead father first alerts Hamlet to the actions of “that incestuous, that adulterate beast, /With witchcraft of his with, with traitorous gifts” (I.v.42-3). And yet still, Hamlet remains hesitant to believe that Claudius was the murderer, searching for complementary evidence. The play that Hamlet enacts -- designed to “catch the conscience of the king” (II.ii.562) --succeeds in revealing Claudius’ guilt, but does not provoke instant action on Hamlet’s part. So effective is Claudius’ manipulation of the royal circle that he manages to almost permanently stay the revelation of his guilt, and if it weren’t for supernatural intervention against an injustice, he may never have been exposed.
Claudius is introduced as a coward when it is revealed that he murdered King Hamlet with poison. When the Ghost, the ghost of King Hamlet, tells Hamlet about how he was killed, the Ghost says, “Now, Hamlet, hear: / 'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard, / A serpent stung me. / So the whole ear of Denmark / Is
In the book of Hamlet, William Shakespeare introduces the character King Claudius in act one scene two. The character makes an impression of a powerful man who commands respect from every individual. Shakespeare portrays Claudius’ role as the most crucial and intriguing person. In the play, Claudius is the most mysterious, the most controversial and the most discussed character as many people look at him only to see a villain. As the play starts, Claudius is the King of Denmark, who has inherited Gertrude, and the uncle to prince Hamlet. As with the rest of supporting characters in the play, Claudius is underdeveloped to his complete potential (Mabillard,n.p). His major role that he plays in Hamlet is to spawn Hamlet’s anger and confusion
The stage is awash with the aftermath of a fateful battle. A lifeless king rests amid the corpses of his family and followers, slain for his sins. His nephew, Hamlet, has just taken the life of the man who stole King Hamlet’s crown and passes on with the confidence that he has just liberated his nation, Denmark, from an oppressive ruler. Unfortunately, what Hamlet fails to grasp is the amount of incalculable sacrifices that guided him to be able to tear away Claudius’ crown. In actuality, the lack of animosity in Claudius’ character as well as the sheer destruction that resulted from Hamlet’s journey to avenge his father acts as evidence to the poignant truth: Hamlet was responsible for his country’s decay and cannot be considered the