William Shakespeare's Claudius: What Makes Him Evil

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Claudius: What Makes Him Evil Villain: “a bad person who harms other people or breaks the law, or a cruel or evil character in a book, play, or film” (Villian). In William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, Claudius is the protagonist. The opening of the play has Hamlet in mourning for the death of his father who was the king of Denmark. Simultaneously Hamlet is upset with his mother for already having remarried to his uncle Claudius. Due to Hamlet’s annoyance with his mother, he says, “O, most wicked speed, to post/ with such dexterity to incestuous sheets!” (Hamlet 1.2.156-157). Less than two months elapsed between his father’s death and mother’s remarriage, and to make matters worse Gertrude marries Claudius, the uncle of Hamlet. Formerly …show more content…
Claudius often times commits immoral acts like: killing his brother, spying on Hamlet, trying to kill Hamlet and so on. When Claudius and Gertrude call upon Hamlet’s childhood friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to help them with someone. Claudius speaks to them that, “to gather, so much as from occasion you may glean, / whether aught, to us unknown, afflicts him thus/ that, opened, lies within our remedy.” (2.2.16-18). Gertrude and Claudius fear for Hamlet and his mental health. Calling Hamlet’s dear friends to hopefully see what is wrong with him doesn’t seem villainous at all, but they are actually spying on Hamlet, and it is doubtful Claudius actually cares for Hamlet’s wellbeing. Claudius wants to know whether Hamlet is in anyway going to cause him trouble. This motivation of why Claudius spies on Hamlet is what makes him a villain, considering that Gertrude is no villain and she also applies for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet. Claudius’ immorality is a very stereotypical villainous trait, of course, because protagonist are not good people they are the worst people usually, especially in Shakespearean works like Hamlet. In Hamlet and other works by Shakespeare villains are often “unstoppable tyrants, killers, and psychological tormenters” (Sherr-Ziarko 6). The immorality of …show more content…
After even the shortest period of time of gaining power Claudius shows fear and corruption whenever there is a possibility of him losing his power. The greatest example of this in the novel is Hamlet, for Claudius deeply fears losing his power and we know he is above nothing to retain it. Claudius will go to any extent whether it be sending Hamlet to England to be executed, or just trying to poison him. Claudius was easily corruptible another trait of a villain, for if he was a hero, his power would be used towards the betterment of others not in fear that he would lose it. Once corrupted by his elongated possession of power Claudius will stop at nothing to remove any obstacle in the way of him maintaining his power. His major obstacle is Hamlet because he knows, he knows that Claudius is the one who killed his father, and Hamlet will stop at nothing to exploit Claudius for what he has done and to kill him and avenge his father’s death. The first precautionary action Claudius takes to prevent Hamlet of this would be when he sends Hamlet to England. Claudius says it is to give Hamlet some time away for his safety after Hamlet kills Polonius. Of course the true motivation behind this is that Claudius is sending Hamlet, to England, to be executed which would alleviate Claudius of all his problems. After this plan fails Claudius grows very fearful and his corruption fully

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