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Hamlet and Claudius

Hamlet and Claudius are the main characters in the play. Upon reading the play, one will automatically agree that Hamlet is the protagonist – the central character – whereas Claudius is the antagonist – the adversary, the contender, the opponent. Examples for which Hamlet is the protagonist are the following: 1. Hamlet bemoan the “most wicked speed” with which his mother and uncle have posted to “incestuous sheets” ( Hamlet, I. ii. 156-157). Claudius depicts someone who is power-loving, treacherous, and ruthless.

His “love” for Gertrude was a powerful motive for the murder, and to Hamlet, Gertrude is “th’imperial jointress” to the throne of Denmark, which indicates that she wields some power and suggests that Claudius’ decision to marry her had political implications. 2. The hero sustains the shock of learning from the Ghost that “the royal bed of Denmark,” now “A couch for luxury and damned incest” ( I. v. 83-84), shelters not only a fratricide but also a probable adulteress.

Hamlet is filled with loathing for his mother, who has married her former husband’s brother only a short while after being widowed. Hence, here he cries out for what is right in accordance with his puritan nature, for this type of marriage was considered incestuous in England until the 20th century. 3. Hamlet wishes to avenge his father after learning of his death and says, “Haste me to know’t; that I, with wings as swift as meditation or thoughts of love, May sweep to my revenge. ” (1. 5 29-31)

Hence Hamlet decides to present “The Murder of Gonzago” before the king, he states as his motive: The spirit that I have seen May be the devil; and the devil hath power To assume a pleasing shape; yea and perhaps Abuses me to damn me. Examples which may make Hamlet the antagonist: 1. Ophelia’s description of him as he was before his father’s death, he had “The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s eye, tongue, sword’; and was indeed Th’expectancy and rose of the fair state, The glass of fashion and the mould of form. ( 3. 1. 153-4)

Meaning therefore that prior to King Hamlet’s death, Prince Hamlet was once looked upon not as a threat to the kingdom. 2. Hamlet now is not just living as Prince of Denmark to fight only for the cause of his country but of the cause of his father, when he says, “I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records, All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past, That youth and observation copied there; And they commandment all alone shall live within the book and volume of my brain, unmix’d with baser matter. ” (1. 5 100-05) This cause has made Hamlet some sort of renegade since he is plotting to uncover the secret behind the former king’s death.

Hence this makes Hamlet both the protagonist and the antagonist. Examples which may link Claudius as the antagonist: 1. Kills the former king, marries the reigning queen for political implications. 2. When Hamlet detects an eavesdropper – Polonius, behind the arras, he eventually kills him giving Claudius an excuse to hurry him out of Denmark and have him executed on his arrival in England. 3. The king suggests to Laertes that they dispose of Hamlet by means of a fencing match – in which Laertes will use an unprotected foil tipped with poison. 4.

The king further plans that should Laertes’ skill or nerve fail, he is to offer Hamlet with a poisoned cup of wine. But based on these events, Hamlet could be both protagonist and antagonist at the same time as he astutely plans to thwart the plans of Claudius. He attempts to shaken Claudius’ reign by putting on an “antic disposition” and exposing his treachery through the use of a play. Claudius, on the other hand, makes every attempt to protect his new status and eliminate anyone who will spoil his plans. He perceives Hamlet as his enemy and is cautious about his antics.

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