Throughout “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare, the character of the present king, Claudius, behaves and lives in such a manner that he shows himself as a good king, while inversely being a bad person. His actions, as well as the meaning behind everything he says to others, are excellent proof of his moral state. His leadership and characteristics regarding politics govern his potential as a “good” king, while his ideas, personal actions, and manipulative speech depict his evil, “bad” side.
Claudius is a good king and leads his country wisely. Proof of this can be seen throughout lines 16 to 38, wherein the king tells of Young Fortinbras’ assumption of Denmark’s political weakness, and his concern for regaining the lands lost by his father. The king reacts by sending ambassadors with a message to Young Fortinbras’ uncle, in hopes of resolving the issue. This choice of diplomacy over war shows that Claudius is wise when faced with the duties and decisions of a king. The king is also shown to be lenient and caring for his subjects. He replies with, “Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine, / And they best graces spend it at they will!” (I, ii, 62-63), when Laertes requests leave to France. This shows that Claudius is not a tyrant and allows his subjects freedom of action. Recognition of these specific traits implies that Claudius can still be a good king, despite being a bad person.
Certain characteristics of Claudius can be viewed as wrong, evil or “bad”, yet can be useful in being an efficient ruler. Claudius is a decisive king who is quick to act. An example of his decisiveness can be found shortly after the scene of the play, when the king says, “I your commission will forthwith dispatch, / And he to England shall along with you:” (III, iii, 3-4).
He is afraid of Hamlet’s unknown knowledge and that he may be discovered and charged for the murder of his brother. This causes him to cr...