Claudius: Politics vs Immorality Essay

1968 Words Mar 4th, 2011 8 Pages
Throughout Hamlet, Claudius is revealed to be a malevolent person at heart; however, this does not reflect that of Claudius’ role as King of Denmark. Claudius reveals his immorality through his personal actions, such as the murder of Old Hamlet, his marriage to Gertrude, and manipulative speech; however, in dealing with politics, his leadership ability and effectiveness as a king overshadows his ethical flaws. Claudius is inserted into Hamlet as a malevolent character, as demonstrated by his murder of Old Hamlet, his attempt to murder Hamlet, and other plots to protect himself from the “slings and arrows” of his sinful life (3.1.57). Upon meeting with Hamlet privately, Old Hamlet’s ghost angrily states, “Ay, that incestuous, that …show more content…
Again, Claudius reveals his immoral characteristics through his own speech. Despite his immoral characteristics as a person, Claudius, is surprisingly a good king who is fit to lead Denmark better than the deceased Hamlet, which is proven through his leadership ability and political savvy. From the first act of Hamlet, Claudius is already portrayed as a man who can live up to his role as “King.” In response to Young Fortinbras’ aggressive letter on the reclamation of his father’s lost lands, Claudius states, “We have here writ to Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras […] to suppress his further gait herein” (1.2.27-32). Compared to Old Hamlet, who “did slay this Fortinbras,” Claudius chooses to settle political matters in a more peaceful manner, instead of inciting violence that would inevitably cause the bloodshed of his people (1.1.85). The choice of diplomacy over war represents the difference between Claudius and Old Hamlet ' Claudius shows care for his people by protecting them from a war while Old Hamlet is presented as being bloodthirsty, acting on his own impulse rather than thinking about the consequences of his actions. In a reply to Claudius’ previous letter to Fortinbras’ uncle to hinder his nephew’s troops, the uncle asks for a “quiet pass through [Claudius’] dominions for this enterprise on such regards of safety and allowance” (2.2.76-78). This can easily be read as Claudius’ foolishness for allowing such

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