What conflicts did Claudius go through in Hamlet?

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Claudius has external conflicts with Hamlet and internal conflicts about what to do with Hamlet.

Claudius killed his predecessor, King Hamlet , and married the queen, Gertude.  This resulted in a lot of resentment on Hamlet’s part.  He was not happy that his uncle would marry his father—especially since...

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Claudius has external conflicts with Hamlet and internal conflicts about what to do with Hamlet.

Claudius killed his predecessor, King Hamlet, and married the queen, Gertude.  This resulted in a lot of resentment on Hamlet’s part.  He was not happy that his uncle would marry his father—especially since the two men were brothers!

Hamlet’s conflict with Claudius is an outspoken one.  While Claudius has to be careful to be kingly, Hamlet does not really behave like a prince.  He is sullen and acts out.  He makes no secret of his opinion of the marriage and of Claudius. 

Claudius tries to laugh off Hamlet’s mood, and comments that the young man should snap out of it.

KING CLAUDIUS

… But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son,--

HAMLET

[Aside] A little more than kin, and less than kind.

KING CLAUDIUS

How is it that the clouds still hang on you?

HAMLET

Not so, my lord; I am too much i' the sun. (Act 1, Scene 2)

Hamlet’s remark about the relationship between himself and his uncle demonstrates his strained relationship with Claudius.  Hamlet is the man’s nephew and his son, since he married Hamlet’s father.  Claudius comments on Hamlet’s mood, and Hamlet’s reply is sullen and cryptic.

Claudius is presented with an internal conflict about what to do about Hamlet, especially as he gets more and more suspicious that Claudius killed King Hamlet.  He can’t just kill Prince Hamlet, because that would be too obvious.  Hamlet’s bizarre actions make him unsure what to do.

Claudius attempts to pray about the whole situation. Hamlet actually sees him and thinks he is praying, and doesn’t kill him because he thinks he will go to Heaven.  Instead, we learn that Claudius is so conflicted he can’t even pray.

KING CLAUDIUS

[Rising] My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
Words without thoughts never to heaven go. (Act 3, Scene 3)

Claudius does try to kill Hamlet, but Hamlet is too clever for him.  In the end, almost everyone dies in the complicated duel and poison of Act 5, including Gertrude.  Hamlet gets his revenge!  It is at great cost.

Claudius is evil.  It takes a lot of guile and no morals to kill your brother and marry your sister in law.  He desires power, and will go to any means to get it and to hold onto it.  However, he is outwitted by Hamlet.  Hamlet's crazy is too much for Claudius.  Whatever he does, Hamlet is always one step ahead of him.

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