Claudius, one of the characters in Hamlet, is involved in duplicity designed to destroy others. In the play Hamlet, Claudius shows us that no matter how long a man tries to mask himself, his true intentions and nature will one day come to light.As a king, because he’s 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 state of mourning by throwing a party in honor of his new marriage. He shows how he will deal with foreign threats and, in contrast to how his late brother dealt with the enemy, when threatened by young Fortinbras, 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.Claudius is smart and politically savvy; as well as manipulative, greedy, and dangerously ambitious. However, at the same time, he is also grief-stricken over what he has done to gain the throne and his brother’s wife-but he is unable to repent of his actions or make reparations. Claudius demonstrates the human characteristics of double-mindedness, as well as the unconscionable destruction of both the guilty and the innocent.Hamlet has had many opportunities to kill Claudius.
In fact, revenge was justified homicide; Hamlet could have just sneaked up behind Claudius and killed him. Unfortunately, this is not in Hamlet’s nature. He reveals his hesitation in Act I when he says “O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right!” His hesitations lead to his circuitous plans; the crazy acts, the denouncement of Ophelia, and the altered play.
These get him nowhere, which is right where he wants to be. Of course, the moment is perfect when Claudius is praying. Luckily, Hamlet thinks of another excuse to avoid committing an act which is out of his character. Like many of Shakespeare’s plays, Hamlet can be read and interpreted on many different levels. The most popular and common theme, however, seems to be the theme of revenge. The audience sees this theme play out in the tragedy as Hamlet vows to avenge his father’s death.
He becomes so consumed in his quest that he ends up destroying the relationships of those he loves, while he also begins questioning death and his own mortality. Hamlet can be also seen as a central theme because everything else plays off of Hamlet’s obsession with seeking revenge.