What evidence in Hamlet reveals Claudius's character and his abilities as a monarch?

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In Act I, scene ii, Claudius shows his true character as a king and also how he will run his kingdom. He is a smart man who seems to have good intentions for his kingdom, but, he is also very secretive and deceptive. Later in the play we see him use these same skills to further plot against Hamlet's uncle, his brother-in-law, and the death of both him and his wife.

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As a king, because he his new to the job, Claudius seems to need to prove himself to his new kingdom. In Act I, scene ii, we see Claudius make several key decisions that show what kind of king he will be. First, he attempts to move his kingdom past their...

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state of mourning by throwing a party in honor of his new marriage. He shows us how he will deal with foreign threats and, in contrast to how his late brother dealt with the enemy, when threatened by youngFortinbras, Claudius attempts to avoid bloodshed and battle by asking Fortinbras's elderly uncle to deal with his nephew. This actually isn't all that far from the kind of man he is as well. Claudius is not a "hands on" conspirator and killer. He does things secretly and stealthily and, the elaborate nature of his plots become his undoing in the end of the play as it leads to the death of his wife, stepson, co-conspirator Laertes, and himself.

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What kind of a King is Claudius in Hamlet? What evidence shows the kind of monarch he is and the kind of man he is?

Shakespeare's Hamlet is set in Denmark in the Middle Ages, at some time between 1100–1500 CE. Until about 1660, Danish kings were elected. In actual practice, the eldest son of the reigning king usually was elected King, but it wasn't until after 1660 that the throne of Denmark was formally made hereditary.

When Hamlet's father dies, or, more correctly, when Hamlet's father is murdered by Hamlet's uncle, Claudius—although the Danish people didn't know that—Hamlet is a university student in Wittenberg, Germany.

Denmark is under threat of invasion from Fortinbras, the son of the former King of Norway, who was killed in battle by Hamlet's father. Young Fortinbras has vowed to recover all of the territory that Norway lost after his father was killed, and he's rattling his saber at Denmark's border.

Claudius no doubt fought with Hamlet's father in the war against Old Fortinbras and perhaps even showed himself to be a trusted and able commander.

Even though Hamlet would traditionally be elected King, Denmark is in a perilous situation that requires a steady and experienced leader, and, if it becomes necessary, an experienced warrior.

When Hamlet's father died, Hamlet—a student, inexperienced and unproven in statesmanship or war—is over five hundred miles from Denmark, and Claudius—brother of the dead King and an experienced leader and warrior—was in Denmark, probably already living in Elsinore Castle, and ready, willing, and able to take control of the country.

It was an easy decision for the Danish people to make, and Claudius was elected King. To reinforce his claim to the throne, Claudius married his brother's wife and former Queen, Gertrude.

It's interesting to note that at no time during the play does Hamlet challenge Claudius's right to be King, even after Hamlet learns the truth about his father's death. Hamlet challenges Claudius only on moral grounds.

In act 1, scene 2, Claudius is shown already attending to affairs of state and taking steps to ameliorate the rising conflict with young Fortinbras. Claudius seems notably unimpressed with the young man's saber rattling. Rather than confront Fortinbras and risk war, Claudius simply goes over Fortinbras's head and sends emissaries to Fortinbras's uncle in order to resolve the matter peaceably.

Claudius then turns to Laertes and graciously permits him to return to France, from where Laertes willingly came to Denmark, "To show [his] duty in [Claudius's] coronation..." (1.2.55).

All that remains is for Claudius to practice "tough love" and call a petulant Hamlet to task for what appears to Claudius to be "impious stubbornness" and "unmanly grief" (1.2.97) in mourning his father's death.

If this scene is any indication of future behavior—and if the ghost of Hamlet's father hadn't made an appearance in the play and thoroughly upset the status quo—Claudius might well have proven to be a strong and capable King.

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What kind of a King is Claudius in Hamlet? What evidence shows the kind of monarch he is and the kind of man he is?

Claudius is a king who appears to most of his public as an able king, appointed and approved of by the counsel, who does his job efficently.  In the opening of scene 2 of Act 1, Claudius tells his audience that his marriage to Gertrude so soon after his brother's, and her husband's, death is justified and accepted.  He does not dwell on the matter, but moves on quickly to the matter of Fortinbras of Norway who wants to reclaim land lost by his father to old king Hamlet.  Claudius dispatches two representatives to talk with the current king of Norway to stave off any attack.  This makes Claudius appear to be a good king who takes care of problems.  Before the end of the first act, however, we learn from the ghost of Hamlet's father how deceitful, ambitious, and amoral Claudius really is.  If there was any doubt about Claudius' guilt in the murder of his brother, we have Claudius prayer-confession in Act 3, sc. 3.  Then, in Act 4, sc. 7, we also see the conniving quality that Claudius possesses when he talks with Laertes.  Claudius' plan to have the English kill Hamlet fell through, so he has a new plan for Hamlet and Laertes to engage in sword play just for sport, but for Laertes to have a sharpened tip so he can kill Hamlet.  Claudius seems like he doesn't want to get his hands dirty with murder, except in the case of his brother's murder.  Claudius is shown then to be cowardly and to be an overly-ambitious, and unwise leader and man.  He took the word of Fortinbras as it was given to Norway's king, that Fortinbras wouldn't attack Denmark, but Fortinbras did enter the kingdom.  It's clear that there was little if any Danish resistance because Fortinbras seems to easily walk into the kingdom and into Elsinore.

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