Power vs. Happiness (Eassay on Hamlet, the Play)

Topics: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Folger Shakespeare Library Pages: 5 (1499 words) Published: March 26, 2011
People who long for power are those who do not have power, not even the ability to control and manage themselves, but they all have one belief and one goal: the goal to become greater than others. They believe that becoming powerful will give them control not only over their own lives but of others below them, and along with such power, happiness will result. Absolute control is absolute power which no one in the world can succeed. The more demand for control and power, the further one will be from happiness and true power. Claudius, William Shakespeare’s antagonist in “Hamlet (the play)”, clearly models the person whose power-hungry mind act unreasonably to gain control and power, thinking happiness will come along, but in the end only disappointment and tragedy results.

Late King Hamlet is a well respected majestic character of Denmark, who also lives in fame; the fame he gets as rewards for his good deeds. The battle with Norway is also one of the greatest victories for the country, and until now, King Hamlet is honored and his chivalrous acts are taken into accounts, “As thou art to thyself, such was the very armor…when ambitious Norway combated…” (I.i.59). Seeing his brother Hamlet having all these fames and respects, and happy moments with lovely Queen Gertrude, and young Hamlet, gives Claudius the wrong impressions that, such good life is resulting from when one can control and feel mightier than others. With envy and lust of power, Claudius murders his own brother when he is asleep, and by making a hasty marriage of the queen, instead of young Hamlet, he becomes the new King of Denmark, the benefactor of the throne.

Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death
The memory be green…..
Th’ imperial jointress to this warlike state …
In equal scale weighing delight and dole-
Taken to wife….
Now follows that you know young Fortinbras …
Importing surrender of those lands, all bands of law

Claudius makes the important speech about his condolences towards the death of the king, announces his marriage to the queen for it is necessary to maintain the country’s order during these warlike years, and about foreign affairs. Most of Claudius’ speech are focused either on the possible war with Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, or are followed by his harbinger to foreign problems of Denmark. Two things are happening to Claudius at the moment: is confused about true power, and trying to be accepted. He is proving himself that his use of power is for the good of the country and he is indeed concentrating on the foreign policies, but in reality, he has a feel that all such acts are out of distracting himself from lust of power moment. His marriage to the queen is to receive acceptances and to be acknowledged by everyone as the caring king who is in sorrow of his brother’s death, in order to sway everyone’s attention away from the causes and reasons behind King Hamlet’s sudden death.

Now that Claudius gets the power of a ruler as he wanted, does he get his happiness as he has expected as well? No matter how hard he tries to hide the truth and makes him to believe he is happy now, it is unsuccessful; young Hamlet’s hateful and suspicious treatments towards him, and Hamlet’s wittiness to set mind traps, makes Claudius guilty, and brings his life to misery. “Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounc’d to you, trippingly on the tongue…”, Hamlet orders the scenes for three of the players for the upcoming play called Mouse Trap (III.ii.1). As the play goes, on the day of event, at the moment when Lucianus character in the play pours poison into the “player king’s” ears, Claudius explodes into craziness, rises from his seat, and yells “Give me some light. Away!” and orders the play to be stopped (III.ii.239).

O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven; …
A brother’s murder. Pray can I not…
My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent…
My fault is past…
Can serve my turn? “Forgive me my foul murder”? …
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