Might I have some help with finding evidence that Claudius is not concerned with the safety/welfare of his subjects in Hamlet?I know that he is not concerned, but I need some help finding...

Might I have some help with finding evidence that Claudius is not concerned with the safety/welfare of his subjects in Hamlet?

I know that he is not concerned, but I need some help finding evidence. I know that he values the crown more than the queen because he lets her drink the poison. What other evidence will back me up?

Expert Answers
Stephanie Gregg eNotes educator| Certified Educator

That Claudius is a completely self-centered man is indisputable.  He kills his own brother for the crown and for his brother's wife, and it appears he wants both only for his own pleasure and not for any allegiance he feels toward his country.  In Scene 2 of Act 1, Claudius sends Cornelius and Voltemand to speak with the king of Norway, whose nephew, Fortinbras, has assembled troops and seem to pose a threat to Denmark.  Claudius, concerned more with asserting his new-found authority than with protecting his nation, wants the bed-ridden king to chastise Fortinbras.  When Cornelius and Voltemand return, Claudius shows how inept he really is at leading a country--he grants permission to Fortinbras to travel through Denmark uninhibited, supposedly on the way to Poland (Denmark, of course, does not lie between Norway and Poland).  Claudius's mistake is not fully realized until the last scene of the play, when Fortinbras invades the castle. 

Claudius also is obviously more concerned with maintaining the crown than with the feelings of his wife, of Ophelia, or of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (or any of Hamlet's other friends).  He is perfectly willing to have Hamlet murdered in order to keep the throne, as exhibited both when he plans to deport Hamlet to England with papers that order his death and when he stages the duel between Laertes and Hamlet, rigged for Hamlet's death complete with a poisoned rapier.

Claudius is just a terrible man.  He ranks right up there with Lady Macbeth to me--at least she did eventually feel guilty!

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Hamlet

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