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Claudius, hateful villain or good king?

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Introduction

"Claudius makes a good king. He is a careful ruler and a loving husband, providing stability for both his country and wife." "Murderer of the rightful king, Claudius is the play's hateful, lying villain." What justification is there in the text to support these two views? What is your opinion of the way Shakespeare presents Claudius? Claudius is capable of becoming an effective king. However his choice to exploit his newly found power for personal gain contradicts the good he attempts to accomplish. An effective king has to be an honest king. Unfortunately Claudius seems unable to be honest to any person through the course of the play. His act of murder and his claim to the throne reflects a self promoting character for the audience. Claudius however is able to be honest with God. Through his act of repent Claudius shows to the audience that he is able to be truthful and it also shows that he is able to distinguish right from wrong. ...read more.

Middle

His use of manipulation through his use of language mimics the idea of pouring poison into his brother's ears, by talking people into his way of thinking Claudius is metaphorically pouring poison into people's ears. In this scene we can see the talent that Claudius harbours that would make him a good stable king; conversely we also see that he puts these talents to bad use causing him to be the play's hateful, lying villain. Hamlet believes that Claudius is the murderer of the rightful king. In Hamlet's first soliloquy, Hamlet refers to his father "so excellent a king, that was to this." His belief that Claudius is not the rightful king that should provide benefit for the state, before his father's ghost informs him of his murderous attributes, allows the audience to see that in the eyes of those that loved the late King Hamlet, Claudius is no comparison to the leadership that was shown by his predecessor. The late King Hamlet was a man who charged into battle "armed at point, exactly cap-a-pie" as described by Horatio in act one scene two. ...read more.

Conclusion

We see that Claudius is upset with his actions when he pleads for religion to cure him of his life at the alter, he asks for forgiveness. Claudius is not the legitimate king, and therefore automatically takes the place of the play's hateful, lying villain. The addition of his murderous attributes makes it hard for any audience member to connect with the thought behind Claudius' actions. He's seen as a cold murderer that only acts for himself. Contrary to popular belief I believe that Claudius is a man who tempted one day made, a very bad decision. Through his human instinct for survival he has become a corrupt king that originally wanted well for his country. We see his remorse when he kneels at the alter for forgiveness. He provides stability for the short term but not ultimately. Claudius has the ability to become a great king, but has tainted his chances with the murder of his brother, causing him to become the corrupt villain that audiences see him as. ...read more.

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