How does Shakespeares language portray Claudius as an intellectual Villain? Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:24:05
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Charming, Charismatic and Sympathetic. The new King of Denmark seems to possess all the equalities the citizens of Denmark were craving for in their new leader. After years of being subjected to the government of an old-fashioned King they were ready for a change, which they get in the form of Claudius. However, it is possible that beneath the veneer and gloss of the splendid King something is rotten in the state of Denmark. As the plot of Hamlet unfolds, we get to see behind the fai?? ade of the cheerful King and Queen of Denmark and discover the deceit and dishonesty that lurks in Claudius.

Claudius is first presented to us in Act I Scene II. This is the first time that Claudius addresses his court, and so to his audience these first impressions are vital. He presents them with a well-rehearsed speech, using all his skill as a diplomat and politician to win over his new subjects. He dedicates the first part of his speech to remembering old King Hamlet-to his audience this would seem respectful, but I think he does this simply to cover up for his deed-by saying how green the memory of him is he will not be suspected to have had any part in old Hamlets death.

This is also clever on Claudius part as he is aware of the unease of his position. Claudius goes on to use the term that it us befitted, this is clever on the Kings part as he cleverly merges the royal use with the ordinary plural. This is extremely subtle but it shows him identifying himself with his audience and the ordinary people of Denmark. Claudius also makes sure that his audience knows that it was his advisors who suggested he marry Gertrude-Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone with this affair along for all, our thanks.

To his audience this may have been seen as a gracious act, but for Claudius it ensures a group of people whom to blame if their marriage fails, it also gives a group of advisors who the Denmark population can blame if the marriage fails. People who dont agree with the marriage have someone other than Claudius to blame. These are just some of the examples showing Claudius qualities as a politician, choosing his words extremely carefully, and wining them over. We know he needs to redeem himself in this way as the Church of England and Catholic faith forbade such incestuous marriages.

When Claudius uses the term jointress he implies that Gertrude has some part in the kingdom. This means that him marrying Gertrude has safeguarded his claim to the throne. This will ensure no one else will contest his claim to the throne and he craftily lets his audience know this. Claudius gains more support by throwing meaningless but bold statements into his speech- the destruction of the agreement with Fortimbras is mainly symbolic, but to the audience it is a brave act telling them he will fight for Denmark.

He knows how unpopular the war with Denmark and by quickly letting them know he is against it, he will win the people over. Claudius knows that to be successful he needs to win over Polonius, not only as an advisor but as someone he can use and trust. He does this by announcing that Polonius son Laertes may have his leave. Claudius uses very intimate language while talking to Laertes, firstly by addressing him as thou-a very intimate form of address, and secondly by repeating Laertes name while in conversation with him. This would show Claudius graciousness to the son of Polonius whom Claudius must win over.

Apart from wining over Polonius, in front of the court it shows them his kindness. To add his show of warmth, Claudius publicly welcomes Hamlet as his son But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son. Claudius knows that wining over Hamlet is imperative, as he therefore ignores Hamlets rebellious comments about him and his wife-Hamlets mother Gertrude. Claudius also makes sure his love for Gertrude is present, he frequently uses the plural instead of the singular when he expresses his views to Hamlet-And we beseech you to remain.

We know that Claudius behaviour in front of the court are just for show because of his replies to Hamlet-often intimidating as if he has no interest in what Hamlet has to say, such as Hamlets remark A little more than kin and less than kind. Claudius pretends not to hear this and then asks Hamlet why the clouds still hang on him? Claudius must know of Hamlets grief but pretends to know nothing of it. Another way we can tell Claudius simply puts on a show is that when talking in front of the court he calls Hamlets grief Sweet and commendable as if he understands it.

In private though, he is worried about it that he calls Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. So, in this first speech he has been presented as an excellent politician, a well-spoken and kind man, but all of this seems to be a show. He has many hidden motives in his speech proving him to be very calculated. We must remember that there was much public opinion against Old Hamlet when Claudius came to power, people of Denmark were tired of the war and so Claudius didnt need to prove himself as a man to become King. We get the feeling that anyone apart from Old Hamlet would be good.

We already know from the remarks of Barnardo in Act I Scene I that Claudius has assembled a back-up fleet, ready if the negotiations with Fortinbras fail. All the evidence so far has shown Claudius to be an excellent King but a sly and crafty Man. The next time we see Claudius he is plotting against Hamlet, a demonstration that he has no intentions to talk hamlets behaviour through with him. This time Claudius uses two of Hamlets close friends from university-Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. He explains to them how Hamlet is So much from thunderstanding of himself.

Again, Claudius puts on a show as a worried father figure to bring them round despite the fact we know all of this is being done completely behind Hamlets back. Claudius is aware of his power over these men, and uses it to his full advantage, how can they disobey the King and Queen? Claudius real motive is simply to have two spies to make sure Hamlet causes no trouble for Claudius while he is away. Claudius doesnt mention or consider the consequences for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern if they do what they are asked.

Claudius continual use of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, despite the suspicions among them that Hamlet knows they are spies, eventually leads to their death in Act 4 Scene 7 although their death is brought about by Hamlet, it was the fact that they were spying on him that caused him to die. Claudius treatment of Polonius must next be examined. When Claudius finds out about Hamlets love of Ophelia, he knows he can use this to his full advantage. Indirectly, his use of Polonius leads to Polonius forcing his daughter into becoming a spy for the king, which Ophelia is reluctant to do.

Polonius feels it is his duty and wants to impress the king. When Claudius is told about Polonius plan to use Hamlets love for Ophelia to trap him, Claudius embarrasses it, We will try it, unlike any other descent man who would dismiss it as deceitful. We now see that the only friends Claudius wishes to make are those who will be useful to him either as spies or informants. Although Claudius acts as if their plot to use Ophelia is a last resort, it isnt, it is simply easier than having to talk to Hamlet himself and have a conversation as if Hamlet were his own son.

In fact Claudius has made no real attempt to find out what the problem with Hamlet is. He has avoided conversing with Hamlet since when he spoke to the court. These are hardly the traits of a caring father figure. When we see Claudius in the Play scene, some argue that his redeeming quality is his conscience and regret at what he did, but Claudius reaction is no different to anyone elses in that situation. He had just seen the murder that he committed portrayed to him in the form of a Play, when he was certain nobody knew about it.

The reaction is probably of panic that someone knew of his foul act rather than anything else. This reaction certainly isnt one of guilt. When Claudius says, Give me some light, away we know that him seeing his act again has almost made him physically ill. Claudius panic and guilt are short lived, immediately after the play he plots to be rid of Hamlet by sending him to England. He now knows that Hamlet knows of his offence, and his tone of voice also now changes. I like him not, nor stands it safe with us to let his madness range¦ and he to England shall along with you.

People argue that if any scene redeems Claudius, it is the prayer scene. Claudius does use Biblical quotations but they do not show a close study of the Bible and would have been common knowledge among anyone in a Catholic country such as Denmark. In fact the main reason for his prayer is probably fear. Anyone who committed an act like this would be sent to hell, Claudius knew this and it was therefore a last attempt at redemption. The thing that I find most staggering in his prayer is that he still wishes he could Be pardoned and retain the offence?

This shows that if there were a choice between staying King or being pardoned, he would rather stay in power. This clearly illustrates that Claudius has no interest in being pardoned or paying for his offences. He almost believes that his choice of killing his brother was the right one. His guilty conscience is also clear, My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent, demonstrating that he didnt think that his guilt would be a problem when he murdered his brother. It is only now once the play scene has brought his guilt back to him that his conscience becomes a problem and affects him.

When Polonius is killed by Hamlet in act 3 Scene 4, largely due to Claudius, you would think that Claudius would stop plotting bloody deeds, however Polonius death has little effect on him, but Claudius walks straight from praying into plotting another murder. This time he plots the murder of Hamlet, and drags Laertes into his scheme taking full advantage of the fact Laertes is angry and seeking revenge. In plotting with Laertes, Claudius knows that his troubles with Hamlet will be over.

If Claudius was able to convince Laertes to exact revenge on Hamlet for Polonius death, Hamlet will cause him no more grief. There is irony here, as Claudius is advising Laertes to do what Hamlet is attempting to do to Claudius. Claudius uses all his strengths to bring Laertes round to murdering Hamlet- Was your father dear to you? and Revenge should have no bounds. We must remember that all this plotting is done without Gertrudes knowledge, he doesnt have any trust in her, and this makes us doubt his love for her.

Claudius has plenty of time to think over the plot to kill Hamlet, but even when Ophelia dies he still goes ahead and in fact he wants the deed done sooner-Well put the matter to present push. Many critics described Claudius intentions when he committed the murder to be for his love for Gertrude. I think it was simply the gaining of the throne and greed that drove him to it. I believe the final scene rules out the argument that Claudius committed murder because of his love for Gertrude.

In the final act Claudius has set up a poisoned drink for Hamlet after the dual. It is yet another deceitful plan that has catastrophic effects. When the plan goes wrong and Gertrude goes to drink the poison, if his love were true he would have stopped her immediately. But he knows of the effects for himself if he does this and so, selfishly, he makes no attempt to stop her. He doesnt even leave his seat; he just mutters, It is the polishd up. It is too late. Claudius only redeeming qualities lie in the fact that he is a human being.

Even when he prayed he wasnt desperate enough for mercy to give up the throne, he plotted murders to his dying day, and he lied continuously to his wife Gertrude. I believe he would have lived on quite happily if he hadnt been murdered at the end, indeed he was more worried about the consequences for himself if he had been found guilty of treason. Everyone Claudius befriended throughout the play died, each person somehow connected with Claudius. I think the only one person Claudius cared for was himself. He never once apologised or pleaded with Hamlet-even when he was dying. Claudius only redeeming feature is that he is human.

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