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No Such Thing As A Perfect King

1390 words - 6 pages

It is difficult to say if Hamlet would be a fit king for Denmark because there is not a specific model of what a virtuous king should be in the text. How should a king act? What are the strengths they should maintain? Which weaknesses are minute enough to look over and which weaknesses are dangerous to have? These are all questions that are not directly answered by one character. However, each character does maintain certain strengths, that together could form a worthy king for Denmark, and weaknesses that could be dangerous. These characteristics are demonstrated by the outcome of certain situations that each of the characters experience and how Hamlet, Claudius, and Hamlet’s father are viewed by other characters in the text.
Horatio briefly describes Hamlet’s father as being ambitious, specifically when he combats Norway. This is an important strength to note because it could imply that Hamlet’s father cares about expanding the empire (Shakespeare Line 61). However, this ambition can also be dangerous. When Hamlet’s father returns as a ghost, he states that Hamlet must “revenge his foul and most unnatural murther,” (32 Line 25). The text displays ambition in a negative and positive light; if used in a positive way, ambition can be beneficial for a society.
Claudius is a difficult character to like in the text, but he demonstrates many strengths that a king ought to have. That being said, his weaknesses may overshadow the strengths he maintains. Claudius illustrates that he is able to calm a party when there is chaos—“though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death the memory be green, and that it us befitted to bear our hearts in grief,” (10 Lines 1-3). Claudius expresses sympathy and support to the family in the kingdom, which is important during this time because they are distressed about the death of Hamlet’s father. This is an important trait to have as a king for situations when the society is threatened or at loss. He also displays instances of restraint throughout the text, one of which is near the end of the text when he plans to poison Hamlet. Claudius says aside that “it is the poisoned cup it is too late;” though he does not physically try to stop the Queen from drinking the poison (154 Line 303). Unfortunately, the text does not reveal Claudius’ thoughts about why he fails to do so, but one could presume that he is afraid of admitting what he had done. Alternatively, perhaps he simply did not care enough about her. Even though he could have handled that situation better, his restraint could be beneficial as a political figure, in the way that he is able to resist outside pressure. Claudius also displays his skill of manipulation, particularly when he asks Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to “draw [Hamlet] on to pleasures, and to gather so much as from occasion you may glean, whether aught to us unknown afflicts him this that, opened lies within our remedy,” (45 Lines 15-18). Claudius is manipulating Rosencrantz and Guildenstern into...

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