Reasons For The Anticipation Of Claudius \'s Suicide
Mr. Thompson 4º
European Literature 2 Honors
March 18, 2000
Reasons for the Anticipation of Claudius\'s Suicide
In the tragic play Hamlet , by William Shakespeare, a particular deterrent in Hamlet\'s quest to be rid of his regal uncle is his procrastination. This act of murder intended to set the future right is Hamlet\'s sole responsibility, ordered by his deceased father. Hamlet\'s main target throughout the play is for Claudius to commit suicide. To achieve this goal, he produces a play chiefly for the king called the "Mousetrap." This play is used as one of many tools for Hamlet\'s indirect manipulation of Claudius\'s mind. Just as a mousetrap lures a pest to its own self-destruction while in search of ways to gratify itself, so does Hamlet use the play as a lure to trap the king in his own conscience. Claudius\'s possible suicide would be the result of the guilt traps Hamlet sets with the use of mental stratagem.
As Hamlet scolds his mother for her behavior toward the king\'s honor, he says many cruel things to her. Yet, among these are his pleas for her to repent. One of the last pieces of advice he gives his mother is not to let Claudius tempt her again: "Pinch wanton on your cheek, call you his mouse" (III.iv.200). Hamlet\'s uncle, besides tempting the queen, is also willing to let her be the mouse that gets caught in the mousetrap intended for him. He does not love Gertrude as Hamlet\'s father once did and probably never will. To the plotting king, his only regard for her is purely to serve his own selfish needs. Most of Hamlet\'s efforts to make the king want to kill himself fail because of Claudius\'s strong hold on his mother, which is Hamlet\'s weakness.
Hamlet puts off certain efforts to kill Claudius for various reasons. At one point, Hamlet does not go through with Claudius\'s murder because he does not want him to enter heaven at the time of his death: "Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven / And that his soul may be as damn\'d and black / As hell, whereto it goes" (III.iii.97-98). If Claudius had killed himself, which in almost all religions is considered a sin, he would surely go to hell. Hamlet prefers Claudius\'s acknowledgment of the impetus behind his actions to be his method of self-destruction. The more that Claudius thinks about his evil deed, the more he will come up with reasons as to why he should not go on living.
Claudius is lured into taking the throne by the bait of Gertrude, which was the thought that he could have a privileged place in society alongside the queen. He lusts after her and soon finds himself in the former king\'s shoes: "A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that fed of that worm" (IV.iii.30-31). Claudius uses the king\'s wife as bait to fish for his own personal gain. He is oblivious to Hamlet\'s determination to seek silent vengeance on the person who has trapped him in a world of repugnance. To Claudius, Hamlet will be that ever present, yet scheming force in his life. Hamlet\'s desire is for Claudius to be reminded of his evil deed so much that, like the fish that fed of the worm, he will nourish his every thought bringing him closer to trapping himself in his own guilt.
When asked what Hamlet meant by the fish analogy by the king he gives a strikingly similar example of his relationship towards Claudius: "Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar" (IV.iii.33-34). When he says this, Claudius is not clear as to what he is speaking of, but he does give a clue that offers insight into Hamlet\'s mission in the play. The king that is talked about by Hamlet is his real father. He is telling Claudius how his father is using him as an instrument to gain vengeance. Like the fish Claudius captures, Hamlet is this creature which carries the blood of a king within him. The memory of the king that lives in his son is the fish that "goes a progress