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            The character of Claudius is perhaps the most complex in the play and therefore is open to wide interpretation. Shakespeare ultimately presents Claudius as a "smiling damned villain" who rarely is what he appears to be. The most potent example of this occurs in act 1 scene 2 when Claudius first speaks. He issues a speech and begins by saying:.
             " Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death ".
             This gives the impression that Claudius is saddened by his brother's death, yet it is later revealed that it was he who murdered him. This is linked to the recurring theme of appearance and reality. Throughout the play the audience sees things for things which they did not appear to be, in this case the appearance of Claudius's love towards his "dear brother" in reality is false. There always remains a difference between what he says and what he does. In this way Shakespeare has utilized the complexity of Claudius's character to enhance the dramatic effect of the production, by linking the themes directly to the character.
             The link is further highlighted when Claudius comments on Hamlets mourning of his father:.
             "Tis sweet and commendable in your nature.
             to give these mourning duties".
             By using the words "sweet" and "commendable" Claudius appears to be compassionate and tactful. He praises Hamlet for fulfilling his duty as a son and offers his condolence. His methodical and logical nature of thinking is exemplified through his "matter of fact" way of explaining death: "Your father lost a father, that father lost". Shakespeare has used the repetition of "father" 3 times for added effect.
             Through Claudius perception of death Shakespeare reveals Claudius's true character. The "matter of fact" explanation of death gives Claudius a sense of detachment, an almost inhuman characteristic. Claudius's conception of mourning is associated with fulfilling a certain role: "Obligation for some terms to do obsequious rights".


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