An exploration of the way Shakespeare presents Claudius to the audience

The title of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, would at first suggested its eponymous hero, Hamlet, is the major character. However, in a way the entire play evolves across the character and actions of Claudius. Shakespeare has offered Claudius in a phrase as a “smiling damned villain”, whose greed and selfishness paved the way to his tragic killing of the King. This sums up Claudius excellently, as he has two sides to him, one the general public side, “smiling” and the opposite the non-public aspect “damned villain”.

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Claudius starts his opening speech as king by saying, “Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death” (Act I Scene II, Line1) which creates the impression that his brother’s dying upsets him, but later it is revealed that he was the trigger of it. This links in with the theme of “seeming and being”, where it appears that he’s grieving however is definitely not. Shakespeare has used “seeming and being” repeatedly to level out the audience that, deception is doubtless certainly one of the major components of the play: “My words fly up, my thoughts remain under phrases with out thoughts by no means to heaven go.

” (Act III Scene V, Lines 97-8), This is Claudius’ confession the place he methods the viewers and Hamlet into believing he needs forgiveness, however then discover out it isn’t true. This is further highlighted when Claudius is speaking to Hamlet: “here within the cheer and luxury of our eye”(Act I Scene II, Line116). Again it seems as if Claudius is being caring and needs to take care of him, in a method like a father would, however he has said this very cleverly and in actuality implies that he wants to keep an ‘eye’ on him.

By utilizing the

Pritesh Kotecha Greenford High School phrases ‘comfort’ and ‘cheer’, Claudius is seen to be passionate and genuine, and the way Shakespeare has presented him to be this expert politician is crucial to his character, as he makes use of his wit to get himself out of awkward conditions. Claudius in several parts of the play uses the word ‘our’ to govern individuals. In this case, it seems as though he means for him and Gertrude to maintain and eye on Hamlet, however in actuality he could perhaps be implying, if Hamlet was to do something incorrect the entire state could be a witness.


Claudius very cleverly makes use of the term ‘our’ once more at the finish of the play: “our son shall win”(Act V Scene II, Line 190), which gives the look that Hamlet and Claudius have settled their issues. He has very cleverly switched his perspective from ‘your son’ to ‘our son’ as the play progresses, purely due to his public look. Also he could have maybe said this so that when Hamlet dies he wouldn’t be a suspect, as he appears so genuine and loving towards Hamlet. When Claudius says ‘your son’, he often says it when he has done something mistaken, and implies “it is your son your problem”.

The picture of heaven and God is usually associated to Claudius, not referring to him as a God, however Hamlet makes use of his father to make daring Claudius’ lustful character when he says: “so excellent a king, that was to this Hyperion to a satyr. ” (Act I Scene II Line 139 and 140) Here Hamlet very precisely sums up Claudius in comparability to his father as a end result of a Hyperion was an excellent sun-god of classical mythology; a satyr was a creature half man half goat. Pritesh Kotecha Greenford High School.

The proven truth that Hamlet refers Claudius to a goat is efficient as a end result of the goat is seen to be a very lusty animal, and this info together with lots of other quotes: “incestuous and adulterous beast”, (Act I Scene V Line 42) “a serpent stung me” (Act I Scene V, Line 36) provides the viewers an animalistic perception of him. The proven reality that Shakespeare has stated ‘serpent stung’ is ironic as a serpent can’t sting and this makes the quote stand out, as it is eye-catching and alliteration is used here, and the image of a snake or reptile instantly involves thoughts.

Also, the sibilance here is a ‘s’, which is a connotation of evil. Claudius is once more in contrast with God, when Polonius is speaking to Claudius, he says: “I maintain my obligation as I hold my soul, each to my God and my gracious king. ” (Act II Scene II, Line 44 and 45), as a result of he makes use of God’s name in the identical sentence because the king’s is ironic because in the past the king was seen to be appointed by God, therefore anything a king was to say had to be obeyed. This is ironic as a result of, in this situation Claudius did not inherit the throne the pure means, and needed to commit a vile murder of his own brother to get it.

This once extra shows his greed and selfishness, as he killed his brother to inherit his possessions: “My crown, mine personal ambition, and my queen” (Act III Scene III, Line 55). He has worded this sentence, mentioning his crown first, implying it means the most to him, and then on the finish his queen, which shows he doesn’t care as a lot about her nevertheless it does show that he has some feelings for her although he’s portrayed as this selfish character. Repetition is used right here, and this sentence stands out and reveals Claudius’ greed as all he is saying is ‘my, my, my’.

Pritesh Kotecha Greenford High School Shakespeare uses repetition an excellent deal in Claudius’ speech, and in this case he makes use of it to outline Claudius’ intelligence, like several politician, he makes use of rhetoric as a method to manipulate people: “your father lost a father, that father lost” (Act I Scene II, Line 89 and 90), right here he is attempting to steer Hamlet that it’s all part of the circle of life. This is necessary as it outlines his guilt that Hamlet is grieving for his father a lot, and in a means is making an attempt to make him stop mourning to make himself feel higher.

He even digs so low as he says to Hamlet, you grieving so much is a sin: “’tis a fault to heaven, a fault in opposition to the useless, a fault to nature” (Act I Scene II, Line one hundred and one – 2). Moreover, he again provides himself away unconsciously as he tries so exhausting to make Hamlet cease grieving. Shakespeare has offered Claudius as a skilled politician in this sentence as a result of once more he structures it in three elements, and once more repetition is used, to make bold the principle point he is making an attempt to get throughout; your grieving is incorrect. Claudius additionally makes use of Hamlet’s vulnerability as a chance to point out his energy.

He refers to Hamlet as being weak and fragile: “A coronary heart unfortified, a thoughts impatient, An understanding easy and unschool’d” (Act I Scene II, Line ninety six and 97). The incontrovertible fact that he has used the phrases ‘unfortified’ and ‘impatient’, makes this sentence extra fascinating as a end result of he reveals his energy and intelligence by degrading Hamlet. He says he lacks persistence and may be very weak, and just isn’t educated. Claudius is portrayed by Shakespeare, to take benefit of all conditions together with his language. In this case, he makes use of very unfavorable phrases and the effect is it reveals him in energy over Hamlet.

Pritesh Kotecha Greenford High School His energy can also be proven in his opening speech as king. Here Shakespeare has confirmed him as very highly effective and in control by dealing with all his issues one-by-one. This is a very structured speech and it creates a robust impression on the audience as they see him as a person of management. “What wouldst thou beg, Laertes that shall not be my provide not thy asking? “(Act I Scene II, Line forty five and 46) Here he is simply displaying off his energy saying what can you ask for that I won’t already offer. Shakespeare has added this part in to make him seem passionate and a loyal king.

Again, look and reality comes into play, as it appears as thought he is doing it to assist Laertes, but could maybe be doing it to show his energy. The theme of seeming and being again reoccurs as Claudius is confessing, the place he is seen to be legitimate, however again says things he doesn’t mean: “My phrases fly up my ideas remain beneath, phrases without thoughts never to heaven go. ” (Act III Scene V, Line 97 and 98) Claudius’ deceit is portrayed right here, as he is asking for forgiveness but he doesn’t imply it, he can’t even be truthful whilst in prayer.

This could have been an act of fright from Claudius as he’s now conscious that Hamlet is aware of the reality. This scene could be very vital because it shows Claudius for his true colours, a coward. His character is now becoming more apparent to the audience, who now have something to construct upon. Rhyming couplets is used here, and Shakespeare uses this so much on the end of lengthy speeches or scene’s and is used as a type of cue level, to let the opposite characters aware of when to come in. This line may be proven in many various methods. In the Kenneth Branagh version, Claudius is in a catholic confession field, with some low

Pritesh Kotecha Greenford High School melancholy music in the background, and the camera is slowly zooming in on his face. Which creates a extra dramatic impact and a more private tone, and when this line is due, he does not say it however thinks it. In the Franco Zefereli version he is in front of a cross. Franco Zaferelli similarly uses a cross symbolising the same non secular that means as the confessional. Claudius’ change in character is again shown via his confession speech. A different side to him is proven, maybe as a outcome of he is now conscious that Hamlet is conscious of the truth, and now asks for forgiveness.

“Is there not rain enough in the candy heavens to clean it white as snow? “(Act III Scene V, Line 46) The language on this sentence could be very powerful as Claudius makes use of natural elements, ‘rain’ and ‘snow’, to outline his sin. Claudius’ graphic description of his sin is robust evidence, and his desire to temptation leaves him tormented by his guilty conscience. Also, as a outcome of Claudius makes use of the color white, it makes him seem more pure and responsible, as white is a connotation of purity, and a blank slate. In the Branagh version, he whispers this line and the viewers see him as being trustworthy and this impact is it makes him seem more apologetic.

Although Claudius is portrayed as this corrupted villain, his character is broad open to interpretation. In a way that though he killed his brother to marry Gertrude, he nonetheless has sturdy feelings for her: “She is so conjunctive to my life and soul That, as the star moves not but in his sphere, I could not buy her”(Act V Scene VII, Line 14-16). Here Claudius uses the earth and the planets to state his love for Gertrude, and implies that without her he would not be succesful of do something. Although Shakespeare has Pritesh Kotecha Greenford High School.

presented him to have robust feelings towards Gertrude, his greed and selfishness overrule his love for her: “Gertrude don’t drink… [aside] It is the poison’d cup. It is just too late. “(Act V Scene II, Lines 294… 296) Just as a outcome of he desires to get his own means, he jeopardizes her life and all through the play, his actions lead to the demise of seven harmless individuals, as a outcome of he can’t resist his temptation and has to cover up his crime. In conclusion, Claudius is portrayed as a good king with bad qualities. Although he does have some good features as king, him being intellectual and powerful, his bad qualities over weigh his good.

In a sense that, he is grasping and selfish, putting his own need first, and going to any limits to achieve his goal. Shakespeare has offered him excellently, “with witchcraft of his wit”(Act I Scene V, Line 43) permitting him to conceal his true colors, aside from when he repented and confessed to God. Throughout the play, Shakespeare makes use of one good quote to define his character as; “smiling damned villain”(Act I Scene V, Line 106), as it reveals that he has two sides to him in each way, private and non-private, caring and egocentric, and cleaver however not very clever.

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