The conceptual idea of evil has incomprehensibly changed all through mankind’s history, running for the powerful and mysterious to the very people among whom we live. In present day times, evil has turned into a totally questionable term. What is evil? From a christian perspective evil is defined as any action, thought, or attitude that is contrary to the character or will of God. During the time Hamlet was written by shakespeare, an englishman, england’s main religion was christianity.
Evil was an entity that violated the English Christian monarchical tradition. Hensforth, the character Claudius, from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, is an inhumane killer and a merciless manipulator, who utilizes “rank” deeds to usurp the position of authority is in direct infringement with the Elizabethan societal standards, and therefoth he is a malevolent character. In the Elizabethan time, the imperial crown was seen as supernaturally contacted and subsequently any act against the crown was an act against God.Claudius dismisses God’s right to control the crown by committing a murder most foul (I.
v. 27), yet he concedes that there’s such divinity doth hedge a king (IV. v. 121). Claudius admits that God influences the monarchy and yet he chooses to violate the divine monarchical progression. Hamlet recognizes Claudius’ evil nature beyond simply the murder of his father; Hamlet sees that Claudius is corrupting all of Denmark. Claudius’ reign is compared to an unweeded garden/That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature/Possess it merely (I. ii. 35-7), his influence causing the destruction of a previously beautiful environment. Claudius’ infectious evil must be eliminated, and Hamlet feels he is the only man who can do anything; he pulls out all the stops and in the end accomplishes his goal. King Hamlet’s foul and most unnatural murder (I. v. 25) tops Claudius’ list of egregious sins, but most of his offenses are psychological rather than physical. Using his mastery of manipulation, Claudius, the incestuous and adulterate beast managed to win to his shameful lust the will of the virtuous queen, Gertrude I. v. 42-6). Gertrude could not be persuaded to switch husbands without a little verbal trickery on Claudius’ part, and that turns out to be his true skill: lying convincingly. Claudius manages to legitimize his ascent to the throne by diverting popular attention, away from the circumstances of his ascent, and to the impending attack by the young Fortinbras (I. ii. 1-20). Claudius’ propensity towards fabrications is in direct violation with the Holy Commandment Thou shalt not bear false witness; hence, he violates one of the pillars of Christian moral law.Claudius’ lies are effective enough to persistently deceive to play’s antagonist, Hamlet. Despite Hamlet’s disgust with Claudius for marrying Gertrude, and his view of Claudius as a king of shreds and patches (III. iv. 104), Hamlet suspicion of Claudius as a murderer is preliminarily nonexistent. The appearance of a spirit claiming to be Hamlet’s dead father first alerts Hamlet to the actions of that incestuous, that adulterate beast, /With witchcraft of his with, with traitorous gifts (I. v. 42-3). And yet still, Hamlet remains hesitant to believe that Claudius was the murderer, searching for complementary evidence. The play that Hamlet enacts ” designed to catch the conscience of the king (II. ii. 562) “succeeds in revealing Claudius’ guilt, but does not provoke instant action on Hamlet’s part. So effective is Claudius’ manipulation of the royal circle that he manages to almost permanently stay the revelation of his guilt, and if it weren’t for supernatural intervention against an injustice, he may never have been exposed.The most odious of Claudius’ crimes is his lack of emotion over his traitorous fratricide. Claudius doesn’t even give his deceased brother a word of respect in his introductory monologue; instead the focus is upon the future of Denmark. Claudius goes so far as to chastise Hamlet for his unmanly grief (I. ii. 94), asserting that for the benefit of Denmark, all those affected must begin to progress. Later in the play, Claudius begins to openly express his remorse, recognizing the immorality of his actions, as Claudius himself puts it: O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven; It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t, A brother’s murder. Pray cannot I. (III. iii. 36-8) Claudius is unable to repent his sins to God, partially because of the heinous nature of his crimes, but also because he never feels passionately enough about his guilt to warrant repentance. Claudius himself articulates the insincerity of his prayers when he says, my words fly up, my thoughts remain below. /Words without thoughts never go to heaven (III. iii. 97-8). The murder of his older brother, King Hamlet, seems to be just another bump along the road towards absolute power for Claudius.He rejects God’s omnipotence and takes his social position into his own hands in direct violation of God’s work. And according to Elizabethan beliefs, God punishes those who defy Him, whether it be through direct divine action or controlled action of another; hence, Hamlet crusades against Claudius and eventually triumphs. A trail of bodies lines Hamlet’s path towards vengeance, but Claudius is revealed, the yet unknowing world is told: How these things came about? Of carnal, bloody and unnatural acts; Of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause; And, in this upshot, purposes mistook Fall’n on the’ inventors’ heads. V. ii. 359-64) Claudius’ true nature is exposed; his treachery and heresy is fully recounted, and presumably he is sentenced to eternal damnation for his moral infractions. God’s will prevails in a fundamentally Christian tale of murder in the name of self-interest and revenge in the name of justice and morality.