Claudius Character Analysis in Shakespeare Play

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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.
When King Claudius enters for the first time in the play he begins by acknowledging the death of Old King Hamlet. He describes his elder brothers sudden death as, “green” and, “that it is befitted/To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom” (1.2.1-2). Claudius is attempting to sound melancholy as he paints his brother’s death as recent and fresh in his mind. He furthers a portrayal of innocence by declaring that he thinks it is proper to mourn the old king throughout the kingdom. However, Claudius continues to say that although he believes it is “wisest” to mourn him he must also do it with “remembrance of ourselves” (1.2.5-6). Though Claudius appears to exhibit profound sorrow for his “dear brother’s death”, he fails to depict real sorrow for him as he quickly states that he must not forget about himself and his own well being (1.2.30). Claudius solidifies this conception when he speaks of grief as “fitting”, though he fails to mention that he himself is or has experienced any form of grief for the death of his brother. Claudius also uses the plural pronoun “ourselves” and “our” rather than the personal pronoun “me”. This separates Claudius emotionally from his brother’s death because he t...

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...3.57). Though Claudius appears to show remorse for his actions, he shows his true character by focusing on maintaining the power and rewards that came from murdering his brother.
When Hamlet calls his uncle a “smiling, damned villain!” he is illuminating Claudius’s ability to hide his true iniquitous nature and appear charming (1.5.107). Hamlet uses the word “smiling” to highlight the dual nature of Claudius. Claudius’s smile is illuminated because a smile can either be good in nature or evil. Hamlet is able to see Claudius’s dual nature as he appears to be a good person but acts as a power hungry and malicious person. He uses his eloquence to hide his true nature and intentions. Just as Claudius murdered his brother by pouring poison in his ear, Claudius pours his words, like poison, into the ears of those around him in order to mask his true nature and intentions.
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