How Claudius Is More Responsib


How Claudius Is More Responsib Essay, Research Paper

How Claudius Is More Responsible for Hamlet Being A Tragedy

William Shakespeare s play Hamlet is a very dramatic play, involving many conniving people, murder, and an overall atmosphere of suspense. It is therefore referred to as a tragedy. There are many aspects in Hamlet that make it one of Shakespeare s best tragedies. There are numerous murders including the untimely death of the innocent and pure Ophelia, and the murder of two loving fathers: King Hamlet and Polonius. There are also numerous revenge plots including those of Laertes, Hamlet and Fortinbras. As the play progresses, hatred becomes evident between many characters of the play. After a deeper study of the play however, it becomes evident that two characters are more responsible for it being a tragedy, Hamlet and Claudius. However, after examining Claudius conniving character, and the facts that he s responsible for causing the numerous revenge plots and leaving Fortinbras with a bloody kingdom, it becomes evident that he is more responsible for the tragedy within the play.

Claudius is more responsible for the tragedy within the play because of his conniving character. This scheming character of his is highlighted when he aggressively demands the king of England to kill Hamlet upon his arrival.

And, England, if my love thou hold’st at aught–

As my great power thereof may give thee sense,

Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red

After the Danish sword, and thy free awe

Pays homage to us–thou mayst not coldly set

Our sovereign process; which imports at full,

By letters congruing to that effect,

The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England;

For like the hectic in my blood he rages,

And thou must cure me: till I know ’tis done,

Howe’er my haps, my joys were ne’er begun. (IV, iii, 61-69)

Claudius creates an extensive plan here. Fearing that Hamlet may reveal his guilt, he decides to eliminate his enemy. Some may argue that Claudius sent Hamlet to England to ensure his safety. Claudius claimed that this would be a good way of restoring his sanity, and hiding him from those angered by him killing Polonius. However, the fact that he wants Hamlet killed shows otherwise. It shows his motives behind sending Hamlet to England were purely evil. They backfire and ultimately end in the deaths of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Trying to hide his increasing evident guilt, Claudius creates this treacherous plan that eventually ends disastrously and tragically. Later, Claudius once again conspires a devious plan to kill Hamlet, except with Laertes this time. His scheming plot here is more complex however, when he doesn t make just one, but two plans to insure Hamlet s death.

KING CLAUDIUS: To thine own peace. If he be now return’d,

As checking at his voyage, and that he means

No more to undertake it, I will work him

To an exploit, now ripe in my device

Under the which he shall not choose but fall:

And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe,

But even his mother shall uncharge the practise

And call it accident.

LAERTES: My lord, I will be ruled;

The rather, if you could devise it so

That I might be the organ. (IV, vii, 58-69)

Claudius devious conniving character is very clear here. Not only does he want to kill Hamlet, but he also wants to make it look like an accident, making the plan as secretive and surreptitious so that even Gertrude won t find out. To insure his sophisticated plan works, he uses Laertes grief towards his father s death to pull in the young man as an accomplice. This conniving plan ultimately ends with not only the death of Hamlet, but also Gertrude, Laertes and Claudius himself. This shows how truly destructive Claudius plans turn out to be. It therefore becomes clear, after examining the disastrous results of the plans caused by Claudius conniving character, that in fact he is more responsible for the tragedy within the play.

The numerous revenge plots inspired by Claudius is another reason why Hamlet is a tragedy. For instance, near the start of the play, great feelings of anger and aggression overcome Hamlet when is informed that Claudius killed his father.

GHOST: Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.

HAMLET: Murder! GHOST Murder most foul, as in the best it is;

But this most foul, strange and unnatural.

HAMLET: Haste me to know’t, that I, with wings as swift

As meditation or the thoughts of love,

May sweep to my revenge.

GHOST: . . . but know, thou noble youth,

The serpent that did sting thy father’s life

Now wears his crown. ( I, v, 29-45 )

Claudius influence into Hamlet s revenge plot is clear here. He is the sole reason why Hamlet seeking revenge for his father s death. He is angered greatly and very distraught at the fact that his father s own brother could be the murderer. Hamlet thus embarks on his plan to avenge his father s death. His revenge plot is a catastrophe, no only killing Claudius, but also Polonius which later causes Ophelia to become mad and commit suicide. Truly, his revenge plot leads the play into being fatal, giving Hamlet a very suspenseful and dramatic atmosphere. Claudius later inspires revenge in Laertes when he persuades him to avenge his father s death by killing Hamlet.

KING CLAUDIUS: Not that I think you did not love your father;

But that I know love is begun by time;

And that I see, in passages of proof,

Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.

There lives within the very flame of love

A kind of wick or snuff that will abate it;

And nothing is at a like goodness still;

For goodness, growing to a plurisy,

Dies in his own too much: that we would do

We should do when we would; for this ‘would’ changes

And hath abatements and delays as many

As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents;

And then this ’should’ is like a spendthrift sigh,

That hurts by easing. But, to the quick o’ the ulcer:–

Hamlet comes back: what would you undertake,

To show yourself your father’s son in deed

More than in words?

LAERTES: To cut his throat i’ the church.

KING CLAUDIUS: No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarize;

Revenge should have no bounds. . . .

Requite him for your father.

LAERTES: I will do’t: (VI, vii, 111-141)

To help Claudius in hiding his guilt he draws Laertes into a devious plan to kill Hamlet. He sparks feelings of revenge in Laertes, thus making him want to avenge his father s death. Some may argue that it was Laertes own choice to kill Hamlet. However, Laertes was acting because of grief, yet Claudius will towards killing Hamlet was because of his evil character. He took advantage of vulnerable Laertes and inspired revenge within him, leading to the devastating and fatal results of the ending scene. The revenge plot is one of the main reasons why Hamlet is a tragedy. The results of Hamlet s revenge plot are fatal and Laertes revenge plot is responsible for the death-filled ending scene, a trademark of Shakespearean tragedies. The fact that Claudius sparks these feelings of revenge in Hamlet and Laertes shows how much more responsible he is for the tragedy within the play.

Claudius is also responsible for making Hamlet a tragedy because of the fact that he left Fortinbras with a bloody kingdom. Shortly before his own death at the end of the play, Laertes reveals the king s guilt and announces to Hamlet that it was in fact Claudius who is to blame for the incredibly devastating preceding events.

LAERTES: It is here, Hamlet: Hamlet, thou art slain;

No medicine in the world can do thee good;

In thee there is not half an hour of life;

The treacherous instrument is in thy hand,

Unbated and envenom’d: the foul practise

Hath turn’d itself on me lo, here I lie,

Never to rise again: thy mother’s poison’d:

I can no more: the king, the king’s to blame

. . . . . . . . . .

LAERTES: He is justly served;

It is a poison temper’d by himself.

Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet:

Mine and my father’s death come not upon thee,

Nor thine on me. ( V, ii, 306-325)

Laertes revealing of Claudius guilt is worth noting for it is direct proof of the fact that Claudius is not only responsible for much of the misfortune throughout the play, but also for the ending death scene that meets Fortinbras eyes upon his arrival. Some may argue that Laertes is responsible for the carnage in this scene, but the fact that he s admitting his guilt shows his actions were a cause of grievance and remorse over his father s death. Due to Laertes apologizing and confessing Claudius guilt, it shows that he was truly a good-natured person and his actions were simply a cause of the grief towards his father s death. Claudius actions however, were inexcusable. His evil character drew Laertes (who was in a vulnerable state at the time) into this plan, which backfired and resulted in a brutally violent and bloody ending scene. Fortinbras later admits himself that the kingdom he has dreamt of possession for a very long time has not been left in such an ideal state as he had dreamt.

FORTINBRAS: Let us haste to hear it,

And call the noblest to the audience.

For me, with sorrow I embrace my fortune:

I have some rights of memory in this kingdom,

Which now to claim my vantage doth invite me. ( V, ii, 379-383)

When Fortinbras arrives at Elsinore, this violent scene meets his eyes. He acknowledges the fact that he receives this kingdom in a very distraught and terrible state. Although making this kingdom his own has been a goal of his for a long time, he didn t imagine to receive it in such a state of disorder. This horribly brutal scene that greets Fortinbras upon his arrival was all a result of the plan caused by Claudius and he is therefore responsible for this large final death scene. A violent death scene is the trademark of all great Shakespearean tragedies. Claudius devious plan backfired and he should therefore be guilty for this ending scene. Leaving Fortinbras his kingdom in this distraught and bloody state further adds to the convincing arguments of why Claudius is most responsible for making Hamlet a tragedy.

Claudius is responsible for the tragedy within Hamlet. As all Shakespearean tragedies, it ended with death. With almost all of the main characters being killed, Hamlet can definitely be classified as a tragedy. Two of the main characters in the play, Hamlet and Claudius are more responsible for making the play a tragedy. However, after examining Claudius conniving character and the facts that he caused the revenge plot and left Fortinbras with a bloody kingdom, it becomes clear that he is more responsible for the misfortune and disaster within the play. Claudius conniving character constructs many devious plans. They all contribute to giving Hamlet a very tense and dramatic atmosphere. Many of his plans are corrupt and thus end in horrible consequences. Claudius also inspires the feelings of revenge in Hamlet and Laertes. He gives them feelings of rage and hate inside, ultimately leading their actions into causing murder. He is also responsible for leaving the end of the play in a bloody and brutal state, giving Fortinbras a bloody kingdom to rule over. A combination of all these convincing factors proves that Claudius is most responsible for Hamlet being a tragedy.

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