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Claudius as the Main Antagonist in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Despite the fact that Claudius is introduced as the main antagonist in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, he actually posses a number of strong qualities. In the beginning, the character shares his emotions about the death of the king and demonstrates his intention to support the family and “to bear our hearts in grief and out whole kingdom/To be contracted in one brow of woe” (Shakespeare 2018, p.15). However, it is just his appearance that contradicts the reality that is revealed by the ghost as “that incestuous, that adulterate beast/With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts” (Shakespeare 2018, p. 45). Claudius does not want to grieve all the time when he decides to marry the queen. It is a matter of time when people get to know that he is the one who killed Hamlet’s father, which crosses out all positive moments connected with the character.

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The theme of sin and salvation is one of the crucial elements in the play that determines the development of Hamlet as a single character and the plot in general. There are many examples of how Hamlet sees sin and the possibility to ask for forgiveness, but he does not want to forgive but to revenge. He is instructed by the ghost to “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (Shakespeare 2018, p. 44). However, he cannot complete this mission because of the dilemmas that are developed around the idea of killing his uncle. On the one hand, he will become a murder that is one of the most terrible sins that sends him directly to Hell. On the other hand, he cannot allow Claudius to die and achieve salvation. Sin and salvation go hand in hand in the plot, and it is hard to observe a happy ending because none of the characters is able to find a balance between these two concepts.

Reference

Shakespeare, William. 2018. Hamlet. PdfCorner.

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StudyCorgi. "Claudius as the Main Antagonist in Shakespeare’s Hamlet." April 5, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/claudius-as-the-main-antagonist-in-shakespeares-hamlet/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Claudius as the Main Antagonist in Shakespeare’s Hamlet." April 5, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/claudius-as-the-main-antagonist-in-shakespeares-hamlet/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Claudius as the Main Antagonist in Shakespeare’s Hamlet'. 5 April.

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