Analysis of Claudius's Speech Act I Scene Ii (Hamlet)

781 WordsFeb 3, 20144 Pages
Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, follows closely a theme of appearance vs. reality and within the play itself, hardly any of the dialogue or even character motivation are exactly what they seem. Early on in the play we are introduced to Claudius the new ruler of Denmark and he makes a speech addressing the court . After an explanation of his recent marriage to Gertrude, a brief mourning of the past king and addressing the problem of Norway’s invasion, Claudius seems to be a rightful and strong ruler. However, like much of Shakespeare’s work, the true nature of this speech will only be revealed after thorough analysis. The opening speech is a test of Claudius’ political skill, one in which he has to strike a careful balance between acknowledging the grief of the nation over its loss and moving on to confront the pressures that are facing the country. This speech presumably represents Claudius’ first official function as Denmark’s new king, and thus is essentially his orientation into the court, in which hitting all the right notes is crucial to establishing his legitimacy as the new head of state. Attempts at balance are continued through the dialogue, at different degrees of success. The previous scene of gloom and darkness is replaced by the bright lights of the King’s court. If outside the castle is thick with the aura of dread and anxiety, inside is desperately attempting to create an energetic attempt to banish the feel of looming danger, as the king, the queen, and the courtiers pretend that nothing is out of the ordinary. Claudius’s speech is full of contradictory words, ideas, and phrases, beginning with “Though yet of Hamlet our late brother’s death / The memory be green,” which combines the idea of death and decay with the idea of greenery, growth, and renewal (I.ii.1–2). He also speaks of “[o]ur sometime sister, now our queen,” “defeated joy,” “an
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