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Hamlet - King Claudius

By warren031 Nov 16, 2008 544 Words
Claudius struck me as the most interesting character in the play besides Hamlet. He was very into getting what he wanted which was to be the king. Claudius is a very decisive man. No matter what had to be done, he wanted to achieve his goal, even if that meant killing his own brother. That takes a lot of will and a person very selfish to accomplish such feet. Along with his ability to deceive people with his charm, he is very good with his language. It seems like he could con any of the other characters into doing what he wanted to do just by the way he spoke to them. He was viewed as the villain of the play and showed very little remorse for his actions. Even when Hamlet walks in on Claudius while praying, you could tell that he was only partially sorry because it had to be his brother but not sorry for doing it overall. He says his "offense is rank" and "smells to heaven," and yet still will not say he is truly sorry because of all that he has gained. He much more cherished his role as ruler over his brother’s life. Which was made even more apparent when after his brother’s death, he married his brother’s widow. Personally, this showed a level of disrespect to me. During the movie we watched in class, it showed Claudius and Gertrude flirting even while King Hamlet was still alive, so that made me believe that they were canoodling even before King Hamlet’s death. Claudius’s love for Gertrude may be sincere, but it seemed to me that he married her to help him win the throne away from Hamlet after he killed the king.

A question I was sort of left with is asking if Claudius really is a villain? Sure he kills King Hamlet and lies, but Hamlet caused the death of six innocent people. So who is to say that because Claudius killed one man that he is automatically thought of as the villain? Hamlet’s killings were all public while Claudius kept his private. In that sense, Hamlet seems a little more evil, especially after the fact he was mocking the dead corpse of Polonius. The answer I found lies in the intentions of the murders. Hamlet was out seeking the truth while Claudius was only seeking personal benefit and satisfaction. Hamlet takes full responsibility for his actions while Claudius cannot even say he is sorry for what he has done.

At the end of the play, things seem to catch up to Claudius. Claudius gave Laertes two methods of killing Hamlet with the sharpened sword and the poison on the blade tip. He also added the third way which had him poison Hamlet’s drink. But when Gertrude mistakenly drinks the poison and dies, it gives Hamlet more than plenty desire to kill Claudius. If Claudius would have just went with a more hands-on approach like Hamlet did to the hiding Polonius, then maybe this could have been adverted. So in the end, although Claudius might of seemed like an evil guy to some, the lack of guts in the killing of Hamlet comes back to kill him.

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