in Act I, Sc. II of "Hamlet," how does Claudius react to the threat of Fortinbras?

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kctallman | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Claudius, in contrast to King Hamlet, is more a "lover than a fighter."  King Hamlet was a warrior king who probably would have gone to war against Norway. Claudius, however, sends two ambassadors to Norway, Voltemand and Corneliius, to negotiate with Norway's king.  They meet with success as Old Norway reins in Fortinbras by paying him money not to attack Denmark but, instead, to wage war against Poland.

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cybil | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Claudius directs Cornelius and Voltemand to deliver a message to Old Norway about his nephew Fortinbras' aggressive actions. The old man, sick and bedridden, knows nothing of Fortinbras' plans. Claudius hopes that the Danish messengers will alert Old Norway so that he can now control his nephew and eliminate the threat to Denmark.

Claudius' action here in response to the threat reveals his awareness of current events as well as his expertise--and possible experience--in handling what could result in war if left unattended. He wants to impress the Danish court in this scene that he is a competent monarch worthy of their respect.


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