Claudius and Macbeth: Rogues Driven by Ambition

Topics: Murder, King Duncan, Duncan I of Scotland Pages: 2 (795 words) Published: January 31, 2006
The villains Shakespeare creates for his plays are always intricate characters. These characters do not carry the simple simplicity of just being evil; they are unique specimens of human emotion. The reasons behind their actions are sometimes unclear and their motives unsound. This is what draws the reader to these rogues: connections are sought and found. In Hamlet, Claudius is an ambitious king with no legitimate reason to be on the throne. In Macbeth, Macbeth is a devious general who, through ambition, steals the throne. The actions of each are both fueled by their lofty aspirations.

Claudius is unusual in that he is a two-sided character. He seems throughout Hamlet to be an effective king, dealing with all political and military problems that arise with a quick and effective hand. Claudius is able to show emotion and actually feel it. He loves Gertrude and she loves him, so much so that she defends her husband even to her son Hamlet. She could not possibly love a dark and threatening man. Claudius is not merely a cold-blooded murderer—his conflicting views are very troubling to him.

Claudius has an ambition that will not let him make amends with himself. He recognizes that he has done a great misdeed in murdering his brother, usurping the throne, and then marrying his deceased brother's widow. Nevertheless, he will not make amends with himself or God because he does not want to give up what he has gained by his sin. By recognizing his ambitious actions as evil and admitting that, if given a second chance, he would take the same course again Claudius, in effect, lessens his appearance of being the wicked character he is rendered to be. What makes Claudius the evil person he is is his desire for power. Without this lustful ambition that commandeers his soul, Claudius could be a moral and upright man. Macbeth is introduced in Macbeth as a soldier hero, winning great honor from the king. In essence, however, he is a human being whose ambitions are made...
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