Claudius As The True Master Manipulator In The Novel Hamlet
In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Claudius, brother to the late King Hamlet, secretly messed with the minds of others to get what he wanted when he wanted it. People thought of him as a supporter to people’s problems while he was the one behind all of them along. He will manipulate his wife, Queen Gertrude, who was the wife of King Hamlet, Hamlet his nephew as well as his son, and lastly the family of Polonius. Throughout the play, Claudius used his actions to confuse the minds of others to get what he wants in order to keep the power of being the king and securing his throne of Denmark. Using his manipulative skills throughout the play in incidents, lives of others around him, as well as relationships he has made over the years caused the drama on what is true and what is actually a lie.
Throughout the book, many saw Claudius as a supporter and someone to go to in difficult times. For Claudius’s essential goal to gain power, he used manipulation in both Hamlet’s life as well as making an effort to kill Hamlet. His eagerness and thirst for power began with the murder of King Hamlet, his brother. Committing this crime to take the throne of Denmark, Claudius will feel superior to all that faced him, but had to get Hamlet out of the picture since he was a huge threat to his throne. Claudius will use his words to twist the minds of others, “From the first coarse till he that died to-day”, “this must be so, we pray you, throw to earth. This unprevailing woe, and think of us. As of a father” (Act 1, Scene 3).
Claudius consoles Hamlet with his soft comforting words, while deep inside he actually wants to get in his head. He uses remorseful and sincere tones to express to Hamlet the whole process of life and death. Claudius adds on to say that, one who lived must go and accepted the inevitability of death. Since Claudius’s plan did not following through the way he arranged it to go because Hamlet’s suspicions raised on him, he decided to send Hamlet’s friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern on an assignment to spy on what Hamlet was up to plan on him. Having the opportunity to carrying the power of Denmark instead of Hamlet, resulted to Claudius’s manipulative ways to elevate higher. Unfortunately for Claudius, he discovered that Hamlet is aware of his crime and will plan as much as possible to dethrone him. Manipulation of others emotions and relationships were skillfully used by Claudius in his agenda of gaining power and authority as king. Putting Gertrude, The Queen in total deception was the kind of manipulation Claudius used to get closer to his power. As a strategic move to help him seize the throne away from Hamlet after the death of the King, he decided to marry Gertrude. Without Gertrude knowing the crime Claudius committed of murdering her late husband, she put all her trust into Claudius’s false motive of saving the nation as well as agrees to marry him. On top of that, he identifies himself as a loving and caring stepfather to Hamlet in order to gaining Gertrude’s love and trust. For instance, Claudius shows his fake love for Hamlet in front of the Queen, “This mad young man but so much our love”…(Act 4 Scene 1).
Claudius shows his concern for Hamlet’s mental illness, but in reality, he has lost his patient with Hamlet and him having the intentions to kill him. In an article, critics overall felt that regarding Gertrude in the play was seen as a weak willed, highly dependent on Claudius and easily manipulated by Claudius (Shakespeare for Students). Claudius considers Ophelia as a weakness of Hamlet that will tempt him to reveals the reason for his madness. After all, Polonius is the father of Ophelia which gives him the ability to restrains his daughter to accept Prince Hamlet’s love. By doing that to Hamlet, Claudius can easily cause Hamlet to breakdown and lose his sanity. Manipulating both Ophelia’s and Hamlet’s emotion through his inferior,Polonius’s power. Using this same method also applied on Laertes. Claudius does this to Laertes by convincing him that Hamlet is responsible for his father’s death and that Hamlet is their common enemy. Claudius starts by challenging Laertes’s loyalty to his father, Polonius, “Laertes, was your father dear to you? Or are you like the painting of a sorrow, As face without heart?(Act 4 Scene 1). Claudius is concluding that if Laertes has the loyalty to his father, he would defend his honor in action. As a result, Laertes states his passion and his plan of revenge on Hamlet, “To cut his throat in the church” (Act 4 Scene 2).
This shows that Claudius successfully has taken advantage of Laertes anger and hatred of Hamlet in helping himself achieve the goal of killing Hamlet. According to the criticism on Claudius in Hamlet Outline, it states that “Claudius is clearly a clever politician and manipulator of people and he skilfully turns Laertes’ sorrow and anger to his own purposes” (SparkNotes). Having control of his power, Claudius takes full advantage of people’s loyalty by take control over the event in the play. Polonius dutifully serves for King Claudius,he is willing to use his own daughter to spy on Hamlet. Later Polonius voluntarily devoted himself to eavesdrop on the conversation between Hamlet and the Queen. However, he has only put himself in danger and eventually is slain by Hamlet. Polonius’s death leads to Ophelia’s madness and later drowning brought on by grief and also to Laertes’ alliance with King Claudius to kill Hamlet, to avenge his father’s death. Overall,Claudius has not only take advantage of Polonius’s loyalty and makes him willing to sacrifice his own daughter to achieve Claudius’s goal, but also used Laertes as a tool to assist him in killing of Hamlet. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are courtiers to King Claudius, both of them grow up with Hamlet. When Claudius assign them to send Hamlet to England, neither of men has a problem trading their friendship to betray Hamlet, and choose to obey the King’s order. “Most holy and religious fear it is, To keep those many, many bodies safe. That live and feed upon your majesty”(Act 3 Scene 1).
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern express their respect and devotion to Claudius in this particular speech, saying that it’s a sacred duty to protect the lives of all those who depend on highness of Claudius.In conclusion,Claudius portrays as a crafty manipulator of people,his lies and deceit put all others at risk but himself. Claudius’ strength is not physical strength, but his mental ability to persuade the people around him to do things for his benefit.His deceptions cause the deaths of all the people that close to him. Polonius,Laertes,Ophelia and the Queen all killed under Claudius’s manipulation and scheme. Claudius uses people’s loyalty and makes them to follow his commands; he also mask his evilness with sincerity and fooled others’ emotions.Ultimately, Claudius’s scheming caught up with him and led to not only his downfall, but also the downfall of Denmark. Like “The Manipulative Nature of Claudius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet” article says, “King Claudius, as seen in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is both intelligent and well-spoken, two traits that, put together, complement his manipulative and dangerous nature”.
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