Not Your Typical Villain (William Shakespeare's Classic Play Hamlet).

975 words - 4 pages

In most common forms of literature, the protagonist is portrayed as purely evil and nothing else. This is not the case, however, in William Shakespeare's classic play Hamlet. Shakespeare gives the protagonist, Claudius, some actual character, making him less of a tyrannical villain and more of a human being, giving him doubts about his acts and second thoughts, much like Hamlet himself. By creating sympathy for Claudius from the audience, Shakespeare is able to create a more compelling story and enhance the fact that Hamlet is, after all, a tragedy.The king's soliloquy begins with him speaking of his offense and claiming that it "smells to heaven". He is aware of the gravity of his crime and knows that it is far too immense a sin for God not to have taken notice. He continues with "It hath the primal eldest curse upon't, a brother's murder." In this statement he alludes to the first murder in the Bible of Abel by his brother Cain, and brings to our attention that this parallels with his situation. He laments, "Pray can I not, though inclination be as sharp as will; my stronger guilt defeats my strong intent...", meaning that although he wants to pray for forgiveness more than anything, his guilt in the situation prevents him from deserving any.When saying, "And like a man to double business bound, I stand in pause where I shall first begin, and both neglect." he acknowledges that due to the fact that he has two dilemmas, his crime and his prayer, he neglects to begin with either of them because he doesn't know where to start. He then asks a rhetorical question by saying, "What if this cursed hand were thicker than itself with brother's blood, is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens to wash it white as snow?" Claudius questions if the heavens can forgive him and wash his hands of the guilt, which is a repeated idea from Shakespeare's Macbeth. He then asks, "Whereto serves mercy but to confront the visage of offense?" He is asking what purpose is served by mercy other than deal with the face- visage is French for face- of the wrongdoing. He continues, "And what's in prayer but this twofold force, to be forestalled ere we come to fall, or pardoned being down?" He wonders what purpose prayer serves but to avert one from sin or prevent one from going to Hell.He then says, "Then I'll look up. My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer can serve my turn? 'Forgive me my foul murder?' " He appears to be arguing with himself in this part, for he first tells himself that he will look to the heavens and pray, since there is little else to do now that the crime has been committed. However, he knows that this is a serious crime, and...

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