Claudius of Shakespeare's Hamlet

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Claudius of Hamlet A close second in nobility to the protagonist in Shakespeare’s Hamlet is the incredible King Claudius. His superior qualities render him a worthy antagonist capable of a plummeting downfall at the climax. G. Wilson Knight in "The Embassy of Death" interprets the character of Claudius: Claudius, as he appears in the play, is not a criminal. He is - strange as it may seem - a good and gentle king, enmeshed by the chain of causality linking him with his crime. And this chain he might, perhaps, have broken except for Hamlet, and all would have been well. But, granted the presence of Hamlet - which Claudius at first genuinely desired, persuading him not to return to Wittenberg as he wished - and granted the fact of his original crime which cannot now be altered, Claudius cannot now be blamed for his later actions. They are forced on him. As King, he could scarcely be expected to do otherwise. (n. pag.) The drama opens after Hamlet has just returned from Wittenberg, England, where he has been a student. What brought him home was the news of his father’s death and his uncle’s accession to the throne of Denmark. Philip Burton in “Hamlet” discusses Claudius’ sudden rise to the Danish throne upon the death of King Hamlet I: A strong new king was immediately needed; the election of Claudius, particularly in the absence of Hamlet, was inevitable. What is more, it was immediately justified, because Claudius manages to dispel the threat of invasion by appealing to the King of Norway to curb his nephew, Fortinbras; the ambitious young soldier was the more ready to cancel the projected invasion because the object of his revenge, Hamlet’s father, was now dead, and in ret... ... middle of paper ... .../ham1-col.htm Faucit, Helena (Lady Martin). On Some of Shakespeare's Female Characters. 6th ed. London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1899. Jorgensen, Paul A. “Hamlet.” William Shakespeare: the Tragedies. Boston: Twayne Publ., 1985. N. pag. http://www.freehomepages.com/hamlet/other/jorg-hamlet.html Knight, G. Wilson. "The Embassy of Death." The Wheel of Fire. London: Methuen and Co., Ltd., 1954. p. 38-39. http://server1.hypermart.net/hamlet/wheefire.html N. pag. Mack, Maynard. “The World of Hamlet.” Yale Review. vol. 41 (1952) p. 502-23. Rpt. in Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. http://www.chemicool.com/Shakespeare/hamlet/full.html No line nos.
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