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. His mannerisms of speech are graceful and are nothing less than the words of a king, 'to bear our heats with grief, and our whole kingdom.' Claudius is presented to us by Shakespeare as a dominant but caring king. He acts in a friendly manner to his subjects "Take thy fair hour, Laertes; thine be thine" and shows warmth to his nephew, " but now my cousin Hamlet, and my son-." To the naked eye of the audience, Claudius may even be seen as a likeable character, but we later understand Shakespeare's use of Claudius's attitude towards his family at this stage, which is unknown to us to be a whole deceitful act. Here we perceive that not only does Claudius have a great knowledge of affairs of state, "now follows that you know young Fortinbras, Holding a weak supposal of our worth." but he is also a great actor.
We know as the viewer of this play, that it was Claudius that committed the murder of his brother Hamlet, and that in selfish reason Claudius took to the throne along as marrying Gertrude, the past kings wife. Like the audience of the Elizabethan times, Hamlet is also mystified at this "O hasty marriage."
In his superficial speec...
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...Faucit, Helena (Lady Martin). On Some of Shakespeare's Characters. 6th ed. London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1899.
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.
Madariaga, Salvador de. "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern." "On Hamlet." 2nd ed. London: Frank Cass & Co., Ltd., 1964. p.14-16. http://www.freehomepages.com/hamlet/other/essayson.htm#demag-ess N. pag.
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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- 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]
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