Explore the thoughts and feelings of Hamlet and Claudius in Act 2 Scene 1.

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Explore the thoughts and feelings of Hamlet and Claudius in Act 2 Scene 1

To many people William Shakespeare's Hamlet is the most vivid and descriptive tragedy that he has ever written. In all classic tragedies the hero suffers, and usually dies at the end. Othello stabs himself, Romeo and Juliet commit suicide, and like them, Hamlet kills the traitor but also dies himself.

The speeches of Claudius and Hamlet are one of the main features of the play that focus on their own personal feelings and the ways in which the audience react to them and their actions. Claudius makes his speech in the Great Hall of Elsinore Castle surrounded by his lords and associates. The purpose of his speech is to make everyone aware that he is King and he is now the new ruler of Denmark. He starts off by addressing the crowd by talking about his late brothers death. His use of ‘our dear brother’ makes it seem he was a close relative of the King and not one who had hatred towards him or indeed one that would kill him. Throughout the addressing he reflects back to his brother but then adds himself afterwards by ensuring everyone knows that he is now King. The use of the word ‘our’ is repeated frequently, ‘our hearts…’ ‘our whole kingdom…’ which helps the new King include himself and his people together and he also refers to himself as more than one person, he address everyone as ‘our’ to impose his command, but also to ensure he is the new ruler, it is very much like the ‘royal we’ it shows kingship among his fellow people. He goes on to talk about his brothers’ death and that even though the memory is ‘green’ and people are still newly grieving, the additional part in his new reign of Denmark is of the marriage to his new wife (his late bothers wife). It would have been more discreet not to have married his dead brothers wife so soon and not to upset anyone or make it look like they didn’t care, but his sexual feelings, ‘fought with nature’. He then proceeds to impress his subjects and followers that he and his Queen, ‘the imperial jointress to this warlike state’ are joint rulers of the state and emphasising that they both rule the kingdom.

In just ten lines now he has reminded everyone that even though his ‘dear bother’ has died they should be moving on, and he has established himself and Gertrude as King as Queen, rulers of Denmark.

Claudius moves on to promising happiness, (‘auspicious’) that even with marriage and funeral they will equal each other with, ‘delight and dole’. And his use of an oxymoron, ‘with mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage’ is strange as they are opposites, yet it is very powerful, not just because it compares and contrasts with Claudius himself but also because it is coming from Claudius who has just experienced a funeral and marriage and maybe he feels festivities and happiness at his brothers’ funeral because he knows he will become the next ruler. The King then says that himself and the Queen have disregarded everything they’ve been told and been allowed to get on with their lives together. But he thanks them anyway about the affair. From talking about his personal affairs with the Queen he then turns to the political affairs and introduces the concept of the war with Norway. He makes out that its important to people that there is a ruler and he is just that. The ‘sudden’ loss of his brother has given him the advantage that he can invade Norway. He seems to get annoyed when he talks of Fortinbras, because Fortinbras is threatening the state and his political position. The land Denmark won by King Hamlet fairly in war are now being treated that they belong to Norway again, just because the King has died. He says that he has written to the ‘uncle of young Fortinbras’ who is unaware of his nephews’ activities for he is, ‘impotent and bed-rid’. He shows he has it all under the control and he has dealt with the political and domestic issues. Now finally dealing with the political and social issues of the matter, he moves on to the personal side of things.

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He advances by talking to Laertes, Polonius and Hamlet. However, while Hamlet is his nephew but now stepson, assumptions are made to that he would address Hamlet first and talk to him about any problems. But, he doesn’t and talks to Laertes first. He tries to butter him up and tells him he can have anything he wants. He establishes him importance over Laertes and flatters him to get what he wants but also to win over Polonius. All Laertes wants, however, is to go back to France and, Polonius, his father, reluctantly agreed. It is strange that Claudius should ...

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