Claudius Allusion

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In the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, the dead king’s son Hamlet avenges his father’s murder, but his madness and indecision takes its toll on everyone. Hamlet’s father, the King Hamlet, was murdered by Claudius because he was ambitious for the throne and Queen Gertrude. In Act 3 of the play, Hamlet begins to test Claudius for any sign of guilt in the murder of his father. After watching a play disguised as a reenactment of the murder of King Hamlet, Claudius begins to confess his sins to God. In Claudius’ confession soliloquy, Shakespeare reveals Claudius’ inner duel between his rational desire to act virtuously by relieving his guilt and his gravitation toward material gain and selfishness by following his ambitions through the use of …show more content…

Claudius begins his soliloquy with a Biblical allusion to Cain and Abel, “It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t –A brother’s murder,” (III, III, 37-38), to create a parallel between the curse of Cain and his personal sin. This allusion allows the reader an easier understanding of the plot, especially because certain stories of the Bible are commonly known in Shakespearean England. In addition to this allusion, Claudius uses metaphors such as “wash it white as snow” and “bosom black as death” to help communicate the abstract nature of his beliefs. Although he was discussing religious concepts, he was exploring the idea of sin and the hopelessness of repentance, which are abstract concepts in Shakespearean England. In addition to metaphors, Claudius uses diction with negative connotations such as “rank”, “cursed”, “corrupted”, “wicked”, and “black” in his speech when describing his sin. By using this diction, Claudius shows that he understands the wickedness of his sin. He also uses diction and imagery to communicate his feeling of remorse and guilt. Through the use of diction such as “mercy”, “pardoned”, “forgive”, “repentance”, and “prayer”, Claudius communicates a pleading nature, similar to a begging for forgiveness in the Christian religion. In addition, certain imagery such as his heart “be soft as sinews of the new-born babe” (III, III, 71), and his hands will be “wash[ed] white as snow” (III, III, 46) help communicate Claudius’ desire to be free and clean of his sin, only possible through the process of repentance. However, for Claudius, repentance is hopeless and

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