Claudius' Speech Essay examples

Claudius' Speech Essay examples

Length: 1144 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet revolves around Hamlet’s quest to avenge his father’s murder. Claudius’ first speech as King at the beginning of Scene 2, Act 1 introduces the themes of hierarchy, incest and appearance versus reality and plays the crucial role of revealing Claudius’ character as part of the exposition. The audience is left skeptical after Horatio’s questioning of King Hamlet’s ghost in the first scene of the play. By placing Claudius’ pompous speech immediately after the frightening appearance of Hamlet’s ghost, Shakespeare contrasts the mournful atmosphere in Denmark to the fanfare at the palace and makes a statement about Claudius’ hypocrisy. Through diction, doubling and figurative language, Shakespeare reveals Claudius to be a self centered, hypocritical, manipulative and commanding politician.

Claudius begins his speech with an acknowledgement of Hamlet’s death and his own marriage to Gertrude. Claudius claims that the “green” memory of his “dear brother’s death” “befitted” Denmark to contract into “one brow of woe” (1.2). Despite Claudius’ affectionate reference to Hamlet, his hypocrisy is transparent. The colour imagery reveals the freshness of Hamlet’s death. The metaphor used suggests the kingdom is expected to unite and share the grief over its loss but the diction in “befitted” hints Claudius disapproval of expected mourning rites, causing the audience to doubt his sincerity. Furthermore, Claudius adds that “discretion fought with nature” causing him to think of Hamlet together with a “remembrance of [himself]” (1.2). The metaphorical conflict between “discretion” and “nature” contrasts Claudius’ hasty marriage to the expected mourning after Hamlet’s death. Moreover, in Claudius’ statement, the dependen...

... middle of paper ...

...ns his messengers they had “no further personal power to business with the King” than his articles allowed (1.2). This limitation reveals Claudius’ rigid authoritativeness. Thus, Claudius’ flamboyant use of language and his diplomatic foreign policy reveal his strong leadership qualities.

Claudius’ first speech effectively reveals his character to the audience. Shakespeare’s use of diction and doubling suggests Claudius’ façade conceals his true intentions. Claudius’ artful yet manipulative use of language and his diplomatic foreign policy, prove him to be a commanding politician. This speech sets the stage for the rising action of the play. It plays a major role in revealing plot elements key to an understanding of the play and enables the audience to make an impression of Claudius and decide for themselves his possible role in King Hamlet’s death.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

King Claudius' Speech

- King Claudius' Speech I will be comparing and contrasting the impression that we get of the new King Claudius. I will be doing this by looking at his first speech and the speech in Act 3, Scene III. Claudius’s rather dramatic opening speech (II.1) appears to be relaxed, eloquent and confident, but its careful structure indicates that the speech is well rehearsed. The style of his first extended speech is open to interpretation; he can be portrayed as overly confident about his marriage, referring to Hamlet as his “cousin” and “son” and his kingship; insecure about his marriage, referring to Gertrude as “th’imperial jointress”; crafty and devious, speaking of Ha...   [tags: Papers]

Strong Essays
490 words (1.4 pages)

Claudius Character Analysis in Shakespeare Play Essay example

- King Claudius, as illustrated in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, displays both charm and eloquence. Claudius is an intelligent person and is able to deceive people into believing he is innocent and morally guided. He is adept at manipulating people in order to advance and maintain his own power and fails to show any remorse for his actions. Claudius utilizes his linguistic skills to portray himself as an innocent and prudent leader; however, upon further inspection his diction is a mere smoke screen that hides his manipulative and cunning nature....   [tags: hamlet, king claudius, shakespeare]

Strong Essays
715 words (2 pages)

Claudius Was A Significant Ruler Of The Early Roman Imperial Era Essay examples

- Claudius was a significant ruler of the early Roman imperial era. He reigned from AD 41-54. He was easily influenced by those with questionable agendas, such as his last two wives and his freedmen, yet his principate was deemed successful. His expansion of the empire, his new reforms and his control over the senate were all beneficial to the state and and his rule was one which paved the way for those who ruled after him. Claudius was a member of the equestrian class and became a consul in AD 37 (Emperor Claudius Timeline, N Gill)....   [tags: Roman Empire, Ancient Rome, Nero, Claudius]

Strong Essays
1532 words (4.4 pages)

Claudius, the Unorthodox Tragic Hero Essay

- An Aristotelian’s tragic hero is a person of nobility who is ill-fated by a defect - seemingly intertwined with attributes that make him/her prosperous - in his/her character. Usually the protagonist, a tragic hero is commended for his/her honorable traits and is depicted to be the victim in most works of literature. In Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, the traditional portrayal of a tragic hero is defied: in lieu of being the victim, the tragic hero becomes the culprit of the play. By instilling the antagonist, King Claudius, with honorable qualities like that of a tragic hero, Shakespeare demonstrates that a person is never at the extreme ends of the moral spectrum but rather at the center:...   [tags: hamlet, shakespeare, tragic hero]

Strong Essays
1362 words (3.9 pages)

Hamlet's Characterization of Claudius Essay

- Hamlet’s characterization of Claudius isn’t fair and is biased as a result of his grief and the image he holds up in his mind of his dead father. He seems to be caught up in the differences between Claudius and Old Hamlet; he doesn’t see that for all his damning of Claudius, he is much more like the new King in personality and character than he ever was like his dead father who he elevated to status of god on earth. In Hamlet’s failing to see Claudius as anything but an underhanded, murderous tyrant, Shakespeare gives the audience an opportunity to see all sides of the new King through other characters and lets the audience make up their mind as to whether Hamlet is right or wrong....   [tags: Shakespearean Literature]

Strong Essays
2029 words (5.8 pages)

Essay on Evaluating Claudius's Leadership

- Much of the conflict within Hamlet is the interaction between Hamlet and his uncle and king, Claudius. Throughout the play, much of the insight into their relationship is given through Hamlet’s soliloquies which reveal Hamlet’s distaste for Claudius. Because of the nature of these two characters, Claudius reveals very little about his personal opinion on Hamlet which leads the audience to generally side with Hamlet. Hamlet’s long speeches about the infidelity of his mother and the conniving nature of his uncle lead the audience to develop sympathy for Hamlet’s position and portray Claudius in an unfavourable manner....   [tags: Shakespeare's Hamlet]

Strong Essays
975 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on Hamlet - Claudius

- Hamlet - Claudius What could be worse than killing your brother. Marrying his wife right after. Claudius is the shadiest character in Act I of Hamlet. Claudius had poured the juice of a hebenon (henbane; a very poisonous plant) into his brother’s, Hamlet Sr.’s ear. Hamlet Sr. died quickly but was “doomed for a certain term to walk the night.” Claudius then hurriedly married Gertrude and became king. Hamlet knows none of this however, yet already holds certain contempt for his step-father/uncle....   [tags: essays papers]

Free Essays
386 words (1.1 pages)

Claudius in Hamlet Essay

- Claudius in Hamlet “Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them.” - Nicolo Machiavelli, from The Prince Italian political theorist Nicolo Machiavelli speculated that the strongest leaders are ones who are able to carefully balance appearances to his benefit, strategically using them to strengthen his regime. If Machiavelli was indeed correct, then Claudius, from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, starts off as an ideal Machiavellian prince....   [tags: Papers]

Strong Essays
916 words (2.6 pages)

The Character of Claudius in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essays

- The Character of Claudius in Hamlet        Shakespeare presents Claudius as a character with many faces yet the audience can clearly understand his motives and ambition throughout the play. His character does however change and we clearly see how his evilness and weakness increases as his need to escape discovery and his clandestine nature in doing so, is revealed.       It is in Act one scene two that we are first introduced to the character of Claudius. The impression made by him is that of a powerful and controlled man who is respected by most....   [tags: GCSE English Literature Coursework]

Strong Essays
2078 words (5.9 pages)

Essay on Hypocrisy of Claudius in Shakespeare's Hamlet

- “‘Forgive me my foul murder’. That cannot be; since I am still possess’d of those effects for which I did murder-.” (III.ii.52-6) The hypocritical Claudius proclaims the aforementioned prayer, but is Claudius’ prayer superficial. Shakespeare’s Hamlet is teeming with deceit, incest, and hypocrisy; all of which are clearly portrayed through Claudius. Shakespeare obscures Claudius’ sinister characteristics through hypocrisy, but as the play develops, Claudius’ Mephistophelian nature becomes evident....   [tags: GCSE English Literature Hamlet Essays]

Strong Essays
1645 words (4.7 pages)