There is no single formula for Claudius. For some he's a black-hearted villain, who is justly punished for his crimes, while for others, he is a potentially good king, who pays dearly for his past. Discuss.
Claudius is not a conventional villain. We are presented with two sides of his character, the majesty, dignity, and courtesy of the man, and the ambition and love of power which drives him to the horrific crimes of fratricide and regicide. Despite this and the poison and corruption that ensues, it can be argued that Claudius may have become a good king.
The questions surrounding Claudius's morality is a complex one. Whether or not Claudius is a good king or not depends on his behaviour during the play, and, ultimately, his crime. Given that the only witness to Claudius's crime is dead, we must rely on the evidence of the Ghost in order to achieve a full picture of what Claudius has done. While his brother was, "Sleeping in his orchard," Claudius introduced a, "Leperous distilment," into his ear. In almost forensic detail, the Ghost describes for us the gruesome effects of the poison. It coursed through, "The natural gates and alleyways," of Hamlet's blood, and caused it to, "Curd, like eager droppings into milk," His skin even became covered, "Lazer-like," with scales. This is a cowardly, immoral act of treachery. It is a crime against the state, against the divinely sanctioned right of the king to rule, and on a more personal level, against the institution of the family itself. No good can come of such a crime, and no ruler who murders his way to the throne can be described as a good king who pays dearly for his past.
Despite this horrendous crime, Claudius reveals to us that he is not completely a black-hearted villain. This is evident in his confession scene, in his soliloquy. One of the most complex aspects to Claudius's villainy is the guilt he feels, suggesting that he pays dearly for his past. Although his ambition and jealousy leads him to kill his own brother and steal the throne, guilt also lingers in his mind. When Claudius attempts to pray, he divulges his feelings. Claudius carries, "The heavy burden," of his, "Most foul and unnatural," crime, which leaves only, "Rottenness," in the state of Denmark. Claudius's murder weighs heavily on his conscience, and he admits that it is, "Rank," and, "Smells to heaven," He is no self-deceiver, and in his unsuccessful prayer, he expresses shame, guilt, and misery. Claudius is trapped between his guilt and ambition, knowing that, "Words without thoughts never to heaven go," Eventually, his ambition overrides his desire for forgiveness. This conscience-stricken version of Claudius rarely appears in the play, leading some to believe that he is a black-hearted villain who is justly punished for his crimes.
Claudius has no single formula, and seems to be a decent, reliable and charming king. It is as a monarch that Claudius is at his best. He is courtly and lacks neither courage nor decision. Claudius carefully uses language to enforce his position and to control the people around him. He manages to handle Fortinbras and the Norwegian threat easily and successfully, as they promise never to give, "Th' assay of arms," against Denmark. Through this triumph, Claudius proves himself to be a potentially good king. He also employs a series of paradoxes, such as, "Defeated joy," and, "Mirth in funeral," to convey an impression of balance and good judgement. However, there are questionable aspects to Claudius. His scheming is reprehensible, and makes him a black-hearted villain. When Laertes raises an armed rebellion, and the people, "Muddied, thick and wholesome in their thoughts and whispers," face Claudius; he reveals his manipulative skills, by quickly converting a dangerous man into a useful ally. His plots involving Polonius, Laertes, and Ophelia to spy on Hamlet while maintaining his political façade are impressive as a ruler, though nonetheless suspicious and villainous.
Although in public Claudius wields his stolen royalty as if it came to him by right, in private, we meet a very different man, who cannot be described as black-hearted. Even though Hamlet is disgusted and appalled by his mother's, "O'erhasty marriage," only, "Two months," since his father's death, there is little evidence to suggest that Claudius's love for Gertrude is fake. He is portrayed as a devoted husband, saying to Laertes that Gertrude, "Is so conjunctive to [his] life and soul," Claudius skilfully accommodates his undoubted love for Gertrude with his ongoing conflict with her son, Hamlet. After Polonius' murder, he says he must use all his, "Majesty and skill," to excuse it, and immediately feels threatened, "It had been so with us had we been there," His instinct as a ruler is correct, and he swiftly organises for Hamlet to be executed in England, somewhere away from Denmark and Gertrude. His capability to love Gertrude indicates that he is not an outright villain. Unfortunately, Claudius's ambition and lust for power is stronger than his love for Gertrude. In the final scene of the play, he sacrifices Gertrude to save himself, and is able to watch her drink from the poisoned cup, demonstrating his cold and black-hearted villainy. This, however, was not enough to save Claudius, as Hamlet takes exact revenge on him with both a poisoned blade and drink for each his father and mother, causing Claudius to be justly punished for his crime.
Shakespeare explores Claudius's complex villainy throughout the play, highlighting both sides of his character: the black-hearted villain who is justly punished for his crimes, and the potentially good king who pays dearly for his past. This only shows that there is no single formula for Claudius. He is complex, obsessed with power and envious of his brother while he also acts as the dignified and rightful king of Denmark.
Hamlet Would of Made a Good King Essay
1068 WordsDec 8th, 20125 Pages
When a little boy is born an heir to the throne, the correct process is to grow up and take the place as king. For Hamlet, the protagonist in Hamlet by William Shakespeare, that process is shockingly interrupted. "For he was likely, had he been put on, / To have proved most royal" (V.ii.390-391). This quote was said by Frontinbras saying if Hamlet had lived he would of proved to be a great king. Throughout the play, Hamlet has shown that he had all the qualities that would have made him a remarkable king. Hamlet was an intelligent, rational, clever person who had good morals. His intelligence lead him to outwit his enemy, his rationality lead him to make good decisions, his cleverness lead him to seek the truth and his morals kept him…show more content…
Hamlet had the chance to kill Claudius and seek his revenge but he stopped and thought rationally about what would happen if he did.
"Now might I do it pat. Now he is a-praying./And now I’ll do ’t. And so he goes to heaven./And so am I revenged.—That would be scanned./A villain kills my father, and, for that,/I, his sole son, do this same villain send/To heaven./Oh, this is hire and salary, not revenge./He took my father grossly, full of bread,/With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May./And how his audit stands who knows save heaven?/But in our circumstance and course of thought/'Tis heavy with him. And am I then revenged/To take him in the purging of his soul/When he is fit and seasoned for his passage?/No./Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent./When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,/Or in th' incestuous pleasure of his bed,/At game a-swearing, or about some act/
That has no relish of salvation in ’t—/Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,/And that his soul may be as damned and black/As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays/This physic but prolongs thy sickly days"(III.iii.74-96).
This quotation displays how Hamlet used his rationality in making the decision to either kill Claudius or not. Hamlet thought carefully about what would happen if Claudius died. If Claudius died, he would go to heaven while Hamlet's father would still be in between. That would not be revenging his father death, that would only make Claudius go to