Hamlet vs. Claudius

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Who do you think would make the better king... Hamlet ( not the dead King Hamlet) or Claudius

-- Amanda Joy (shorti149@aol.com), May 30, 2002


The play pretty much seems to say that Claudius is the worst king there could be because he murdered his brother to get to be it and goes on being a naughty, nasty boy. Certainly, at least by the end of the play, Prince Hamlet would be better. Throughout, Hamlet's intention is to do right for a widespread good, Claudius' is to do wrong for his own desires.

-- catherine england (catherine_england@hotmail.com), May 30, 2002.

I disagree. Certainly king Claudius is an evil king for killing his brother for power but that doesn't neccesarily mean that he is a bad king. In act one scene two Cluadius explains the whole fortinbras situation pretty capably. But I don't think shakespeare is really focusing on that. It doesn't matter who it the better king, but who is the rightful king

-- crystal (dickinsone@kent-school.edu), October 27, 2002.

I don't mean Claudius is incapable. I mean he's a bad person, and not the rightful King because he got there through treason, fratricide and regicide, and he enages in incest: he shouldn't even be at liberty, let alone King. It is these points which, regardless of his capability, make him the worst of the contenders for king right from the start. I think WS's point is that the best King is the one who goes about accession, kingship and kingliness in the right ways. And that is not only for the sake of an idea of morality, but because a whole state and people can suffer at the hands of an evil, corrupt king. Claudius, obviously, can never satisfy these kingly requirements. But by V.ii Hamlet has developed to a stage where he could.

-- catherine england (catherine_england@hotmail.com), October 28, 2002.

Although Claudius is guilty of fratricide and regicide, he is a very capable king. Claudius is a consummate polititian, and he manages to solve problens with Norway through one letter - a problem Old Hamlet was trying to solve through violence for alot of his reign. Claudius does show stupidity in letting Norway pass through his land, but compared to hamlet, he a thougsand times better. Hamlet can't even make decisions for him sself, and can't face responsibility. He strives to be like his fathe, but at the end of the play when he does finally embrace his responsibilities to Denmark, he decides to leave evrything to fate believing all actions to be pre-destined. Hamlet retains to the end, a reluctance to make desisions for himself, let alone the rest of his country.

-- TANZILA RASHID (tanzilarashid@otmail.com), November 13, 2002.

There's so much I don't agree with in that.

I say again, I didn't say Claudius was less than capable. Actually it's wise of him to let Fortinbras pass through his land; it's a gesture of good will, of confidence in Fortinbras, so further improves the relationship between the two countries. (The Fortinbras attacking Elisionore thing, exciting though it was in the movie, is not in WS.) Old Hamlet was not fighting Norway most of his life. The play tells us of one combat only between Norway and Denmark, when Prince Hamlet was born. It may even have been single combat. Old Hamlet didn't initiate it, but was dared to engage in it by Prince Fortinbras' father . It was a bet, formally agreed on, and both sides abided by the terms of it. (See I.i.83-107.) There was no problem till Prince Fortinbras got old enough and decided he wanted to take revenge, even though it was all his father's own silly fault that he got himself killed and lost his lands. Prince Fortinbras doesn't decide to get his own back until old Hamlet is dead, and he thinks Denmark is weakened or in a muddle because of the unexpected death of its King. (See I.ii.17-25.)

I've said it before: Hamlet is not indecisive. In the general hurley-burley of normal life he is quickly and assuredly decisive. But in the play there are a couple of heavy things he has to think hard and clearly about before he acts - its a mixture of prudence and a firm sense of religion, ethics and morality, which is sensible and admirable as well as pitiable. Now I mean really, think yourself into the extreme circumstances and the unhappiness, the personal and national concerns, the mess of an existence young Hamlet is thrown into through no fault of his own, but through Claudius' fault, and then think how the hell you would cope. It isn't that Hamlet doesn't face responsibility, but that he faces it square on and discourses with himself on how best to deal with it.

Nor does he in the end leave everything to fate. Look at V.ii.8-11, not just V.ii.215-220. Hamlet merely decides that he isn't going to WORRY about his personal fate, nor how what he does might affect it, nor let that worry stop him from acting. That is, he accepts that there is no need to worry about his end, because he believes in the 'providence' (same sense as provision or providing) of 'a divinity' which will look after his end, regardless of what he does to 'rough-hew' it in the meantime. It is his own decision to go ahead with the fencing match, because he decides himself to ignore his feelings of misgiving. The care, that is the 'providence', which he decides the divinity has for him and will have in his end means he doesn't have to be afraid of death and the afterlife, or of life. He only has to be ready to go with whatever end does come. That, as we see as V.ii continues, does not stop him making decisions or acting swiftly and surely when need be. Rather, it frees him up to be able to do so. It is quite different from the idea of pre-destination. It is a sophisticated balance between the ideas of fate and free will.

I don't think he's trying to be like his father. He is too sure that his father was perfect. I think he's just trying to be, the best way that he is able.

-- catherine england (catherine_england@hotmail.com), November 16, 2002.

blah blah blah...Hamlet would make the better king....

-- Tiffany (purple_angelwink@yahoo.com), December 01, 2002.

I believe it would be claudius because of his take no mercy attitude. To murder one's sibling is the worst sin possible and therefore shows the extreme lengths Cladius goes to, to take the throne. Hamlet on the other hand is ruled by revenge and in my opinion is emotionally fragile and in no fit state to rule a nation. Hamlet possibly though could become a great leader but only through revenge for his father. He would need the support of Horatio and Ophelia though to succeed because as an individual he has no characteristics that are key to becoming a ruler.

-- Shaney Silk (shansilk99@coweshigh.org.uk), January 24, 2003.

Neither Claudius nor Hamlet is fit to be king. To be king you must be decisive and take action. Both characters cannot decide on a course of action at several times; Hamlet failing to kill CLaudius in the church, and Claudius failing to kill Hamlet before he returns and gets his revenge. Just look at Fortinbras. He is a man of action, he knows what he wants and takes it. There is no way Hamlet or Claudius could accomplish conquering two countries like Fortinbras did. Claudius appears ruthless by killing his brother, but he is no different from many British kings who kill their brothers to gain power. Claudius wanted the power, but once he gets it, he doesn't know how to keep it, and Denmark falls apart. Although many people die, I believe the play ends with the just leader, Fortinbras, taking control of Denmark. Even Hamlet says Fortinbras should be king in his dying words. Unlike many Shakespearean tragedies, Hamlet ends with hope for Denmark, despite the loss of most of the characters.

-- Scott Axtell (skotty2hotty03@hotmail.com), April 23, 2003.

Don't you question Hamlet's motive... (aside from the ghost)? I believe power causes greed which is why Claudius killed Ham Sr. and Hamlet even says to Roz. and Guild. that the reason for his "madness" is that the title was taken away from him. And truly how can "the right thing" be killing like six innocent people when he only needed to kill one? I think Hamlet could be just as selfish if not more than Claudius. I agree that neither of them deserve the kingship.

-- Maya Deone (future_super_starlette@hotmail.com), June 01, 2003.

How is Hamlet greedy? The point is, Hamlet is TRYING to do the right thing. His values and judgements may not be ours, but they're not really skewed for where and when he is. If anyone of those who die is 'innocent', it's only Ophelia. Hamlet doesn't kill her. It is a mistake killing Polonius, but it IS a mistake; and Polonius is partly to blame. Laertes's death is his own and Claudius's fault. There's a question elsewhere in the forum - "R & G are dead" (?) - that deals with the deaths of R & G. A lot of this play is critique and commentary on courtly corruption, self-interest and deviousness, which all was so topical in WS's time. Hence all the whispering, plotting, spying, sycophancy, etc. The choices were walk away, join it, or try to beat it. I think Hamlet tries to beat it.

-- catherine england (catherine_england@hotmail.com), June 06, 2003.

Hamlet is not a leader of men. His flaw of inaction is one characteristic one does not want in a king. But at the same time, Claudius spends a lot of his time in power, through Hamlet's eyes, spending it in frivolous pleasures. I think they should make Horatio king. (I know, I'm not answering the question)

-- Carrie Rennick (lovely_Carrie103@hotmail.com), December 02, 2003.

A person as stoic as Horatio would never make a good king.Hamlet is more of a scholar than a politician. We see that when he questions the war that Fortinbras is going to have with Poland. Claudius is not the right ful king. In my opinion, Fortinbras would make the best King for Denmark and that's exactly what happened. See, great men like Shakespeare and myself think alike!!!!!

-- Prax Joseph (mathjo20@hotmail.com), December 12, 2003.

Hi there,

You all stress way too much on a simple question. Plus,it's all in matter of opinion... it's not like you'll ever know who would make the better king. Unless I told you (since I am the author of Hamlet), but I'd rather watch you nerds argue.

Later Geeks,

P.S. I'm alive and kicking it and filthy rich (incase you didn't know)

-- William Shakespeare (im_more_rich_than_you@hotmail.com), January 14, 2004.

You know what I wonder? Who the bigger geek is, the people who try to formulate an intelligable answer to a fascinating question, or the person who posts a messgae pretending to be William Shakespeare.

-- Jennifer Greenleaf (I_dont_want_to_get_emailed@hotmail.com), January 20, 2004.

Hi william!

-- Scarlett O'hara (star_birth_08@hotmail.com), January 22, 2004.

I am not sure if Hamlet would make a great king because of his inability to take action. Nevertheless, Claudius although an extremely intelligent man, was not an effective king either because he used up his energies plotting and spying within his own kingdom and a house devided among itself his destined to fall.

-- Kemba (kemba_ayanna@hotmail.com), April 20, 2004.

I believe Claudius is a well suited King for Elsinore. He sucessfully stops war with Fortinbras in Norway. It is was to be Hamlet his tragic flaw would prevent him to come with solution. Which is over thinking everthing. Even though Claudius had killed his brother,can you blame him...What i mean is that he did it cause he loved Gertude. He truly loved her and he wanted to be with her. He is willing to burn in hell for her. That he is not a all true villian. In his soli., he express at he feels guilty for his brothers murder but resents giving up his queen. That all in all "ALL the World Loves a Lover"

-- Kate (SilentDreamer246@aol.com), May 20, 2004.

I think claudius is the better king because he had a plan compared to hamlet he had no plan watso ever jus to take care for himself.

-- LiL Coe (nolcool13@hotmail.com), October 28, 2004.

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