Claudius, the Unorthodox Tragic Hero

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An Aristotelian’s tragic hero is a person of nobility who is ill-fated by a defect - seemingly intertwined with attributes that make him/her prosperous - in his/her character. Usually the protagonist, a tragic hero is commended for his/her honorable traits and is depicted to be the victim in most works of literature. In Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, the traditional portrayal of a tragic hero is defied: in lieu of being the victim, the tragic hero becomes the culprit of the play. By instilling the antagonist, King Claudius, with honorable qualities like that of a tragic hero, Shakespeare demonstrates that a person is never at the extreme ends of the moral spectrum but rather at the center: a person can never be solely good or evil but …show more content…
One of the qualities required of an efficient leader is the ability to compromise his/her wants/needs with that of the governed; Claudius’s ability to compromise illuminates his leadership skills. Also, Claudius, as a perceptive man, recognizes the immorality of his marriage to Queen Gertrude, so he reasons to the people of Demark: “our sometime sister; now our queen /Th’imperial jointress to this warlike state…Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone/ with this affair along. For all, our thanks” (I. ii. 8-9, 15-16). Claudius clarifies that his marriage to Queen Gertrude was that of political reasoning, clearing all thoughts that his marriage to Queen Gertrude was a result of lust. Claudius, also, does not fail to indicate that his marriage to Queen Gertrude was approved by the people, thus he would not have married Queen Gertrude without the consent of his people. Again, Claudius illustrates his good leadership skill by being selfless – he cares about the opinion of his people, and if they were to show disapproval of his marriage to Queen Gertrude, he would have abdicated his marriage. With the case of young Fortinbras,

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