Claudius Essay, Research Paper
Here is the final version of part of my paper; I revised it several times. The red sentences are the topic sentences of the paragraphs. The green text provides transition. Transition connects ideas between paragraphs and within paragraphs; it also connects generalizations with their supporting or explanatory details.
Claudius’s most outstanding characteristics are his intelligence and quick-wittedness. Upon all occasions and at all times, he shows exceptional skill in understanding others and in responding to them. This ability is revealed at his first appearance. He is making his first public speech since becoming king, and he is in a somewhat awkward position–he has married his brother’s wife and has displaced the expected heir, Hamlet, from the kingship. As king, he of course speaks of public matters first; he briefly alludes to his marriage and thanks the courtiers for their advice in this matter. His thanking them serves two functions; he flatters them to keep their support, and he shares responsibility with them for his marriage by making it a matter of state, not merely a personal preference. In other words, everyone knows the marriage was a wise political move.
Next he moves on to a threat to the state, Fortinbras’s preparations to invade Denmark. He knows how to deal with this threat and announces and implements his plan quickly in front of the court; he is assuring his subjects that the kingdom is in capable hands.
Then he turns to personal matters, the request of Laertes to leave the court. He graciously gives Laertes permission to go, after getting Polonius’s assent to Laertes’s leaving. By pleasing Polonius, he solidifies his alliance with a powerful, respected official.
It is not just the content of his speech that shows his ability but also the manner in which he speaks. He speaks clearly, decisively, and pointedly (contrast his speeches with Polonius’s long-winded speeches). In addition, he changes his prose style to fit the subject matter. His speech is most formal when he is dealing with his marriage and his kingship, a little less formal when he is dealing with the political problem of Fortinbras. But when he turns to Laertes, his speech becomes familiar and graceful,
Take thy fair hour, Laertes. Time be thine,
And thy best graces spend it at thy will (I.ii.62-63).
The high order of Claudius’s intelligence can be seen throughout the play. He quickly perceives that Hamlet’s abuse of Ophelia shows not madness but emotional distress. No one else in the play is able to see through Hamlet’s pretense, not even his own mother. For Claudius, to see a problem is to act, to find a solution. He decides quickly to send Hamlet to England to restore him to health. Moreover, when he realizes that Hamlet meant to kill him, not Polonius, once again he improvises a solution on the spot; he will send Hamlet to England to be killed. An advantage of this plan is that he will not be suspected of Hamlet’s death, so that neither his kingship nor his marriage will be negatively affected. My final example of Claudius’s intelligence is his handling of Laertes’s breaking into the palace at the head of a mob. Claudius bravely faces him and skillfully talks him out of his rage and demand for revenge and wins him