Essay on King Claudius' Speech

491 Words 2 Pages
King Claudius' Speech

I will be comparing and contrasting the impression that we get of the new King Claudius. I will be doing this by looking at his first speech and the speech in Act 3, Scene III.

Claudius’s rather dramatic opening speech (II.1) appears to be relaxed, eloquent and confident, but its careful structure indicates that the speech is well rehearsed. The style of his first extended speech is open to interpretation; he can be portrayed as overly confident about his marriage, referring to Hamlet as his “cousin” and “son” and his kingship; insecure about his marriage, referring to Gertrude as “th’imperial jointress”; crafty and devious, speaking of Hamlet’s death with no real sorrow
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Throughout his first speech, his façade shows little signs of cracking – he says

“discretion” has overcome his natural grief for his “dear brother.” However, during the course of his speeches, there is much evidence of his hypocrisy. He describes old Hamlet as “valiant” and “dear”, despite the fact that Claudius himself was responsible for his death. Here we get the impression that Claudius is a good King and we assume he cares for others but this does change later in the play when his hidden identity comes out of the dark.

Claudius' soliloquy about his remorse over his murder of Hamlet's father is important to the play because it's the one place where we learn how Claudius feels about what he has done (III.3). We also hear his confessions which make us change our views on him.

From the soliloquy I can see that Claudius feels sorry for the murder, but not sorry enough. He says, "Oh, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven." He wants to pray for forgiveness of his offence, but laments, "Pray can I not," because "I am still possessed of those effects for which I did the murder - My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen." - A question many villains have periodically asked themselves. He murdered Hamlet's father in order to get those things and he is not willing to give them up. He realizes
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