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Claudius in Hamlet Essay

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Claudius in Hamlet

“Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them.” - Nicolo Machiavelli, from The Prince Italian political theorist Nicolo Machiavelli speculated that the strongest leaders are ones who are able to carefully balance appearances to his benefit, strategically using them to strengthen his regime. If Machiavelli was indeed correct, then Claudius, from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, starts off as an ideal Machiavellian prince. However, as the play develops, Claudius’ loses his previously immovable command and composure, largely due to his concern over the potential threat posed by his stepson,
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The oxymoronic phrases “mirth in funeral” and “dirge in marriage” recall Machiavelli’s words, for Claudius demonstrates his ability to express whatever emotions make him look wise and just, showing that he is in command of Denmark, despite his limited experience as king. Claudius fortifies his majestic appearance by taking decisive and positive action. When faced with the threat of Fortinbras, he immediately takes diplomatic measures, sending Cornelius and Voltemand to protect Denmark’s borders and create an alliance with Norway. Later, Laertes asks for permission to return to France. Knowing the value of the advice of Laertes’ father, Polonius, Claudius gives his consent in a jovial manner, thus strengthening his position with the courtiers. The King even senses the troubled state of Hamlet, and rather than letting things run their course, Claudius immediately sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as spies. Most importantly, in every decision he makes, Claudius appears confident, maintaining a balanced temperament in the public eye. Yet underneath this smooth facade lies a man who is concerned above all about Hamlet. A full two months after the death of his father, Hamlet continues to mourn, thereby keeping
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