King Claudius Vs Lady Macbeth Essay, Research Paper
Claudius vs. Lady Macbeth
What does it takes to become the perfect villain? Claudius Vs Lady Macbeth please cast your vote now. In a Shakespearean play a villain plays an important role. There always have to be a villain in the play who breaks one of the chains of nature and allows chaos to enter the world, which is then restored by the tragic hero. Claudius, the villain of Hamlet kills Old King Hamlet and spreads chaos in the kingdom of Denmark. Lady Macbeth, villain of Macbeth forces and threatens Macbeth to kill King Duncan and thus also spreads chaos in the kingdom of Scotland. Although some people think that Lady Macbeth is not totally guilty for the tragedy of Macbeth, underneath she is just as guilty as King Claudius is for the tragedy for Hamlet. King Claudius of Hamlet and Lady Macbeth of Macbeth exhibit three similar qualities, dishonesty, evilness, and deceitfulness throughout the play; although sometimes they demonstrate these qualities in different ways, these qualities greatly affect the other characters in the plays and the plot of the play making them one Shakespeare s greatest tragedies.
King Claudius and Lady Macbeth are similar in that they both let their crave of power and desire for the crown drive them to deceitfulness, corruption, and even murder, to obtain it. King Claudius and Lady Macbeth are so greedy for wealth and power that they will let nothing get in their way, even if it means deceiving the ones they love. King Claudius was in love with his brother s wife and desired his position as king. In order to obtain these things he went behind Gertrude, his lover s, back and murdered her husband. Shortly after, he married her and took the crown. Not only was this extremely deceitful to Gertrude, but it hurt Hamlet, his nephew, extremely.
Lady Macbeth was indeed as power hungry as Claudius, and she too plotted a murder in order for her husband to obtain the crown. In doing this she was extremely deceitful of her lover also. She employed many conniving tricks in order to convince Macbeth to kill King Duncan, such as in scene in Act I, scene vii when she says, From this time such I account thy love. Here she is basically saying that Macbeth may prove his undying love for her by killing the king, thus causing him to feel that he is obligated to murder King Duncan.
King Claudius and Lady Macbeth are also very good at disguising their deceit. In Hamlet, only Hamlet himself is aware of the true nature of Claudius. All others, including his Wife and subjects, think he is a wonderful and innocent King.
Lady Macbeth is the same in that she puts up a wonderful facade for both the public and her husband. Although she is planning a murder Lady Macbeth manages to still act as a smiling, gracious hostess. Lady Macbeth’s houseguests and King Duncan, whom she intends to kill, even refer to her as their honour d hostess, in Act I, scene vi. Her husband is also fooled by her charade and is unable to see her evil intent as she cons him into killing the king. Lady Macbeth keeps this facade until the end of the play when her trapped feelings finally drive her mad.
Another thing these two characters have in common is that in the end their deceit leads to their destruction. Claudius s past of murder, lies, and betrayal are all revealed in the end of the play by Hamlet. Ironically, Hamlet then kills the King with the very sword and poison cup that were meant to kill him.
Lady Macbeth+s life is also brought to a horrible end as a direct result of the immense guilt that she battles inside herself. She begins to have fits of madness such as in Act V, scene one when she babbles to herself, |What+s done cannot be undone. This realization drives her crazy and eventually kills her.
Although these two characters are deceitful, corrupt, and evil, these traits are sometimes exhibited in different ways and for different reasons. Both Claudius and Lady Macbeth wanted the crown, but they wanted it for different reasons. Lady Macbeth wanted her husband to have the crown for purely selfish reasons. She wanted to have the honour and fame of being a Queen, she says, And chastise with the valour of my tongue all that impedes thee from the golden round. Here she shows her selfishness as she hopes that she may be able to rid her husband of his scruples of conscience and gentleness of nature so that he may be able to kill the king. Claudius had another motive behind him killing his brother. He was deeply in love with the Queen, his brother+s wife. Therefore, he killed not only for the crown itself, but for love too. Another difference in the ways that they exhibited their evil deceitfulness is in the way that they murdered the Kings. King Claudius handled the whole affair by himself and in fact, he actually did the deed. Lady Macbeth was so selfish that she could not even do it her self because se was afraid of getting caught. In order to save her own face she connived her husband into doing the actual murder, when it was her original idea. She used many deceitful arguments such as in Act I, scene seven when she says, |I would, while it was smiling in my face, have pluck+d my nipple from his boneless gums, and dash+d the brains out, had I sworn so as you have done this.X Here Lady Macbeth argues that she would do basically anything for Macbeth if she had promised to do it. By saying this she intends to use guilt to con Macbeth into killing King Duncan for her. Although they may both be corrupt and deceitful, King Claudius seems to be less conscientious of his wrong doings than Lady Macbeth. Throughout the play King Claudius appears extremely happy, and shows hardly any signs of remorse. Lady Macbeth is far different from this. Although she conceals most of her problems throughout the play, in the end her conscience tears her apart. She becomes crazy and has fits of guilt such as in Act 5, scene one when she says, Here s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Here she realizes that she will never be able to wash the guilt away. She cannot deal with the consequences of her actions as well as Claudius does.
Although Claudius and Lady Macbeth are too self-centred to realize that their evil doings affect others, they do in fact ruin the lives of numerous other characters in the plays. When Claudius murdered King Hamlet he had no idea that it would result in the death and destruction of so many others. Claudius most obviously affected Hamlet who started off as a happy prince and ended up distraught and to the point of lunacy before his death. After Hamlet+s father died he was never the same again. Hamlet+s relationship with all the people close to him such as, Ophelia and his Mother, were destroyed. He became so thirsty for revenge that he accidentally killed his old friend Polonious and eventually his uncle. In the end Hamlet was affected the greatest when the poison sword of Laertes, who had been convinced by Claudius to kill Hamlet, cut him. Another character that was greatly affected by Claudius+s selfishness was Ophelia. Before King Hamlet+s Death Ophelia and Hamlet were in love, but after his death Hamlet became so obsessed with revenge that Ophelia meant hardly anything to him. Although he still loved her deep inside, he treated her horribly partly as a result of his encroaching madness, and partly as a ploy to throw off Claudius and his spies. Ophelia was so shocked and confused over Hamlet+scomplete betrayal that she could hardly go on living, and in the end she became so overwhelmed that she committed suicide. Lady Macbeth also affected many characters with her deceitfulness. The character most greatly affected was her husband, Macbeth. Until his wife convinced him, Macbeth had decided that he was going to stay loyal to the King, and put all notions of murder out of his head. In Act I, scene seven Macbeth declares, “We will proceed no further in this business,” meaning he has decided to end all thoughts of murdering the king. Lady Macbeth will not give up though, and instead begins to try to further lure Macbeth into participating in her corrupt plans. Eventually she is successful in doing this, and Macbeth murders Duncan. Lady Macbeth lit a spark of evil in Macbeth that turned into his destruction. Macbeth became power hungry and murdered many others in order to have it. Lady Macbeth turned her loyal, honourable husband into a corrupt fool. In the end it all lead to the total destruction of a once well respected, virtuous hero.