In Act Four Scene Seven I learned a lot about the character of Claudius. I believe Claudius emerges as a shrewd cunning manipulator and a sycophant in this scene. I also think he is the source of corruption in the play “Hamlet” and that his use of persuasive techniques demonstrate his duplicitous corrupt nature. Nowhere in the play is this more evident in Act 4 Scene7 wherein we are privy to his ulterior motives.
It is evident to me that immediately into this scene, Claudius demonstrates that he is a sycophant. This is manifested in the line: “And you must put me in your heart for friend”. Claudius intends to use Laertes to dispose of Hamlet. He is cunning in the way he recognises Laertes’ hatred of Hamlet and intends to use this to his full advantage. Claudius’ persuasive techniques are highlighted by the skilful manner in which he has turned Laertes from being a potential enemy into a useful ally. He does this by telling Laertes that he is his friend and that he cares about him.
In my opinion Claudius manipulates Laertes as he says: “I loved your father”. This demonstrates Claudius is a sycophant as he uses Laertes to get what he wants, which is Hamlet dead. He doesn’t have any morals and he doesn’t care what is right or wrong. He doesn’t even seem to consider the fact that that he would let someone else die for him (Laertes in the duel with Hamlet).
I believe the reason Claudius can be so manipulative and deceptive is due to his adroit use persuasive techniques. These techniques include adopting an incendiary tone of voice, asking rhetorical questions, repetition and the use of imperative verbs. This engages the vulnerable Laertes and gets him on Claudius’ side. The rhetorical questions convince Laertes of Claudius’ point of view. He asks the questions: “Was your father dear to you? “Are you the painting of a sorrow, a face without a heart?” , “What would you do to show yourself your father’s son in deed more than in words?”
Claudius also uses imperative verbs such as “go”, “do” to manipulate Laertes. Imperative verbs tell Laertes to do something, in this instance kill Hamlet. This is an extremely persuasive literary technique used effectively by Claudius.
I believe Claudius’ cleverness is also apparent in his devising of a plan that will ensure that he is not in any way connected to the death of his nephew Hamlet: “And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe”. In my opinion this manifests Claudius’ shrews and cunning nature. He is completely unscrupulous, never letting his conscience prevent him from doing what he deems necessary. He ruthlessly murdered his own brother and now he doesn’t hesitate in his attempt to kill Hamlet.
I believe Claudius is the main source of corruption in this play and it is demonstrated in Act 4 Scene 7. In my opinion the theme of revenge is evidently seen as Claudius psyches Laertes up to get rid of Hamlet. He does this by telling him that “revenge should have no bounds”. He knows that Laertes will not procrastinate (like Hamlet does) and will play the role of decisive revenger quite well. Claudius’ incendiary tone stirs up Laertes: “What would you undertake to show yourself in deed your father’s son more than in words?”. Laertes’ response “To cut his throat i’ the church” is a direct comment on Hamlet’s inability to do the same for Claudius, thus highlighting the nobility of Hamlet, and underlining the corrupt nature of Claudius. I believe Claudius is utterly self-centred, putting himself before all others including Gertrude, the woman he claims to love. We are then told that he plans to put poison on Laertes sword as part of a back of plan.
In conclusion, Claudius is a shrewd villain who clearly perceives that Hamlet poses a threat to his kingship. He skilfully and unscrupulously manipulates others for his own ends as seen with Laertes in Act 4 Scene 7. He is clever in the way he manipulates others into doing his bidding. He is adept at using flattery to win people round. Therefore I believe that all the corruption and evil in the play stems from the usurper king Claudius as he plans the demise of the noble Hamlet.