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Claudius in "Hamlet" by Shakespeare

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Oct 27, 2008   #1
Hamlet is a brilliant tragic play by William Shakespeare. Claudius is the former king's brother. After he kills king Hamlet, he quickly marries the former queen, Gertrude, and ascends to the throne of Denmark. In act 1 Claudius gives a speech to the citizens of Denmark addressing his brother's death and the potential conflict with Norway. Claudius hides his ambitious and manipulative character through diction and various appeals in order to establish a sense of unity against the common enemy, Fortinbras.

Immediately after old Hamlet's death, Claudius quickly marries Queen Gertrude. In his speech Claudius appeals to the people's emotion over the death of old Hamlet. "Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death...To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom to be contracted in o ne brow and woe..."(18). He try so show remorse of the death of their great and revered king Hamlet, telling the court that he is sad over the death of his brother and everyone should be as well, showing that he feels their pain. He adds that life must go on and should not stop because of one person's death. Since the play sets in media res, the audience outside the play already knows behind the death of kind Hamlet. His true intention is not kingdom or its people but power and control through manipulating others through false remorse. Nobody objects to his marriage or his kingship.

The true reason why nobody objects his marriage or his kingship is that the country is facing a danger: young Fortinbras. Denmark is on the brink of war with Norway, Fortinbras seeks what was lost to them by king Hamlet and revenge against the death king Fortinbras. "Young Fortinbras, holding a weak supposal of our worth or thinking by our late dear brother's death our state to be disjoint and our of frame..."(18). The cunning Claudius takes the threat to his advantage to explain that since the country was on the brink of war he had no choice to marry the Queen and become the king to remedy the situation. He adds that they should unit against the common foe that is threatening their livelihood, Fortinbras. Claudius uses unity to justify his order in his new kingdom.

Claudius uses all means to manipulate the mass to justify his rightful place on the throne. During his speech, Claudius uses pronouns like "we" and "our" to establish sense of unity. He tries to establish a connection between himself and the country as being one from suffering from same dilemma, the death of their beloved king, to being united against the common enemy. "Th' imperial jointress to this warlike state, have we-as 'twere with a defeated joy, with an auspicious and a dropping eye..."(18). This juxtaposition show Claudius' mixed feeling. He tries to hide his political background and true intentions by establish a sense of unity by manipulating other's emotions from sadness of the death of king Hamlet to new order under himself through mixed feelings. Claudius establishes order in his kingdom through unity and manipulation.

Claudius is seen as a very complex character in Hamlet. He is welling to do anything in his powers to justify his righteous place on the throne. He appeals to people's emotions to taking advantage of the threat to explain his kingship. Claudius uses manipulation and other means to establish unity and order in his new kingdom.

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