Hamlet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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How is Claudius ambitious in Hamlet?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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For Claudius, ambition is everything. And Denmark is rotten because of it. A black cloud of moral degradation has been hanging over the realm ever since he murdered his way to the throne. Some people are ambitious for their family; others for their country. But for Claudius, ambition begins and ends with number one. As Claudius is such a selfish, driven man, everyone else must be subordinated to his overriding ambition. Inevitably, people get hurt in the process, trampled underfoot by by the demonic force of one man's insatiable ego. Indeed, most of the many deaths that occur during the play come about as a direct result of Claudius's ambition to expand and consolidate his power.

But ultimately, Claudius is undone by that ambition. Far from bringing order and stability to the realm, his unhappy reign has brought nothing but chaos and bloodshed. Fittingly, perhaps, he comes to be a victim of the very same tumult and instability that he's unleashed upon his kingdom.

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Claudius's ambition...

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