Claudius - a "Smiling, Damnéd Villain"

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Claudius is the main antagonist in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. His manipulating trait confirms Hamlet’s view of his as a “smiling, damnéd villain”. His felonies are unforgivable sins done so to feed his ambition. He further proves his villainous nature with his lack of compassion and empathy. Claudius’ soul is “liméd” because he is evil. Claudius uses manipulation to get his way throughout the play. He urges Hamlet to stay in Denmark. Claudius’ statement that Hamlet returning to Wittenburg “is most retrograde” to his and Gertrude’s desire is true. However, he has twisted the reason for this desire. His intention is to keep an eye on Hamlet and to see that Hamlet does not plan treason against him. Claudius further uses manipulation on Laertes. He formulates the plan and uses Laertes to do his sinful deed which is to murder Hamlet. He plays on Laertes’ hunger for revenge on his father’s killer and uses Laertes’ feelings to achieve his goal. By this we see Claudius accomplish objectives by controlling people around him. Besides manipulation, Claudius achieves much by sinful acts. During the course of the play, Claudius breaks two of the Ten Commandments. The first is “you shall not kill” and this is broken by his crime of killing his brother. Claudius has done this to feed his ambition which is rule over Denmark. We see Claudius murder to gain power. The second broken commandment is “you shall not commit adultery”. Claudius, who is “won to his shameful lust”, marries his brother’s wife. This act was forbidden by the church and was most likely considered sinful by the audience and by Shakespeare himself as it implies adultery. We see that Hamlet’s comparison of Claudius to a “satyr” to be quite accurate due to Claudius’ lecherous character since he commits sin to feed his shameful lust. Claudius commits these acts with one thought in mind: to reach his own goals. This
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