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The Character of King Claudius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Delving into the character of King Claudius in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet, we find a character who is not totally evil but rather a blend of morally good and bad elements. Let’s explore the various dimensions of this many-sided character.

Peter Leithart in “The Serpent Now Wears the Crown: A Typological Reading of Hamlet,” considers the gravity of the main sin of offense of Claudius:

Claudius’s murder of King Hamlet, the act catalyzing the drama of the play, is presented as a sin of primordial character and cosmic implications. Claudius confesses that his fratricide parallels the murder of Abel:

O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven;

It hath the primal eldest curse upon ‘t,

A brother’s murder (3.3.36-38).

[. . .] Claudius has not only committed fratricide, but regicide. The king being peculiarly the image of God, regicide is a kind of deicide. At least, it is an act of rebellion against divine authority. Claudius is thus not only Cain but Adam.[7] Claudius’s sin has, for Hamlet at least, turned Denmark into a fallen Eden; thorns and thistles dominate the landscape. (n. pag.)

The drama opens after Hamlet has just returned from Wittenberg, England, where he has been a student. What brought him home was the news of his father’s death and his father’s brother’s quick accession to the throne of Denmark. Philip Burton in “Hamlet” discusses Claudius’ sudden rise to the Danish throne upon the death of King Hamlet I:

The fact that Claudius has become king is not really surprising. Only late in the play does Hamlet complain that his uncle had “popped in between the election and my hopes.” The country had been in a nervous state expecting an invasion by young Fortinbras, at the head of a lawless band of adventurers, in revenge for his father’s death at the hands of King Hamlet. A strong new king was immediately needed; the election of Claudius, particularly in the absence of Hamlet, was inevitable. What is more, it was immediately justified, because Claudius manages to dispel the threat of invasion by appealing to the King of Norway to curb his nephew, Fortinbras; the ambitious young soldier was the more ready to cancel the projected invasion because the object of his revenge, Hamlet’s father, was now dead, and in return he received free passage through Denmark to fight against Poland.

Grieving Reflection

The purpose of this session was to set a framework for group members to realize that there are different stages of grieving and that the process can be complicated. Furthermore during the session it is hoped that they will also come to recognize that no two persons share the same path when grieving. However, there is still a common experience that some people share which is the loss which can lead to feelings of low self-esteem. ‘This will be done through Impact therapy where they will be encouraged to be active, thinking, seeing and experiencing during the session activities’ (Jacobs Ed, Schimmel J. Christine 2013).
The stages of grieving and the impact it can have on individual self-esteem. The stages of grief are universal and are experience by people from all walks of life. According to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her book entitled, “Death and Dying” she highlight that there are five stages of normal grief. These five stages includes: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. This experience will help them to have a better understanding of where they are at. It will also provide an opportunity for them to assess themselves. (Axelrod Julie 2015)
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2014). We also discuss grief and self-esteem. Research shows that many recognized causes of low-self-esteem are related to the loss of a loved one. Some persons tend to feel powerless and a sense of inability to change their own life. They may experience a feeling of being insignificant or no longer needed depending on the loss. Others might sight unrealistic goals. They might think why it is taking so long to get over the loss. Even though these are just some of the effects of low self-esteem it can significantly affect the group member’s ability to function or cope. (Funnel Rita, Koutoukidis Gabrielle,

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