Justin Vega Ms. Moser AP/IB Language Higher Level Year One 15 September 2010 Analysis of Claudius In all of Shakespeare’s pieces of work, the presence of the evil and dark antagonist(s) that would be the character who instigates the fall of the protagonist(s) in their swift and deceiving ways is needed. Hamlet is no different since he put in a character like Claudius. Claudius is the new, power hungry, King of Denmark who has a thing for using his words to manipulate and instigate the people around him and had a tendency to lie to make it easier for him. King Claudius is also the reason for the insanity of Hamlet by murdering Hamlet’s father and then marrying his mother. The problem that dug the hole for Claudius in the first place was that he killed his own brother, the father of Hamlet, to take his thrown, and if that wasn’t enough, he also married his wife, Hamlet’s mother Gertrude. The fact that he was that power hungry to begin with is enough, but in the text, he had the nerve to say “May one be pardoned and retain th’ offense?” (III.3.57) which is basically him feeling the guilt finally about his action and also happy for his actions at the same time because of what he got in return for it. The evil side to this is messed up on so many levels and how greedy and power hungry he is just adds to how evil of a character he is. One of the greatest, yet still evil attributes Claudius has is his way with words. Whenever a word comes out of his mouth, the people usually took them in and did what they were told. This is another traits that add to his evil and manipulative side. His way with words is first introduced early in the play when he say ”Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death The
memory be green, and that it us befitted To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom.” (I.2.1-3) which is him just talking to the towns people trying to act like the death of Hamlet was normal and that it is right for him to move into the thrown because of it being a weak country, which Denmark believes because a man of such power tells them so. Another way he used words along with the law was to get rid of Hamlet right after he killed Polonious and said “Yet must not we put the strong law on him.” (IV.3.3) because he saw a way to get rid of Hamlet and getting himself out of harms way. How he used his own words and had the evil plans to make people to the work he did not have the courage to do adds yet again to how evil of a character he is. When Laertes comes to him asking questions about his father, he automatically says it was Hamlet and says stuff like “Laertes, was your father dear to you?”(IV.7.7) to instigate the rage inside of Laertes toward Hamlet even more. Then when Laertes starts talking about murdering Hamlet even in a place like a church, Claudius said stuff like “No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarize Revenge should have no bounds. But, good Laertes”( IV.7.127-128) because he knows Laertes will get the murder done and he keeps pushing him. The character of Claudius as the evil brother who had the nerve to take his brother’s life to take the thrown, because he was that power hungry, then took his wife was an essential part of Hamlet because he was the man who instigated everyone and manipulated basically everyone to their death. His assistance leads to the insanity of Hamlet which is the tragic downfall to the play. The antagonist of this Shakespearean play is to blame because of how evil he is. Word- 597
Work Cited Shakespeare, William. No Fear Shakespeare Hamlet. New York City: Spark, 2003. Print.