Hamlet: The Character of Claudius in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

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Hamlet: The Character of Claudius

Of all the characters in Shakespeare's Hamlet, perhaps the role of Claudius is the most intriguing and crucial. 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
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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
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