In Shakespeare's Hamlet, would Hamlet make a good king? In determining your answer, compare and contrast Claudius and Hamlet.

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One of the main difficulties that Hamlet faces is that he will probably not have the opportunity to become king. Because Claudius has taken the throne by the dubious, if not actually illegal, method of marrying Hamlet’s mother, the young prince would have to wait a long time. Should Gertrude have another son, who would be the current king’s heir, he might be in line for the throne.

Hamlet must spend quite a lot of his time working through moral dilemmas. One positive feature in his character is that he wants to do the right thing. He does not want to accuse his uncle or his mother of murder unless he is sure that either or both of them is guilty. This adherence to moral values would be a very good quality in a king. However, Hamlet is also indecisive. He is more of an intellectual than a politician or a diplomat, and he sometimes fails to think through the consequences of his actions. This character flaw is evident in his dealings with Ophelia, whom he denounces as disloyal before giving her a chance to explain her behavior.

Claudius is a politician through and through. Because he loves power, he has been, and continues to be, willing to do whatever it takes to be the king. Although he might have had some misgivings before committing the deed, at the decisive moment, he killed his own brother. He seems to be a sociopath with no real affection for anyone. His marriage to Gertrude stems not from love for her but only his insatiable desire for power. Claudius is...

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