Juxtaposition of the use of regicide in Shakespearean Hamlet and Macbeth. “Crowing achievements are best made in cold blood” By luxury Regicide is defined by the Webster Dictionary as “The killing of a king”. Webster could not have oversimplified this representation more. The ancient art of king killing has existed in a myriad of different forms; stealthy, barbarian, and honorable regicides have been recorded liberally in both literature and the annals of history. Regicide is an act of enormous weight – it takes an extraordinary stimulus to move a man to commit such an act.
In Hamlet and Macbeth, William Shakespeare uses four acts of regicide to bring to light the important motives of the killers, and through the motives showcase the protagonists’ tragic flaws. There are two Instances of regicide In both “Hamlet” and “Macbeth”. In both stories, ambition and power-lust bring about the first set of regicide. Claudia killed King Hamlet, his brother. Because he wants the power of the throne. The two characters, antagonist and victim, are clearly juxtaposed in personality by Shakespeare to create a contrast between the two figures that Prince Hamlet later draws on to motivate his win act of regicide.
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Claudia is a political figure. He schemed, lied, and spied on others. Indeed, he killed King Hamlet by pouring poison into the King’s ear. This act was a symbol of not only Claudia’ scheming nature, but also how Claudia took advantage of others by poisoning their ears and thus making his set of ears more powerful. His ear poisoning also foreshadowed his use of eavesdropping later, as well as the poisoning (killing) of one of Claudia’ surrogate ears, Polonium. King Hamlet’s personality Is entirely different from Claudia’. Hamlet Sir. As not political. He did not scheme, but In fact dealt with things directly. He was a warrior- king, and deals with problems as If they were an opposing army on the battlefield. Seen in the play as a ghost, King Hamlet encouraged his living son to avenge his wrongful death by killing Claudia. This presented a strong motive for Hamlet to commit regicide himself. Because Hamlet eventually does kill Claudia, we can tell that Hamlet is a weak-willed character. He was incensed by the thought of his mother’s quick marriage to the manipulative Claudia.
He was spurned on even more by the image of his father’s host and Its eerie words that King Hamlet was a victim of a “foul and most unnatural murder”(Act 1, Scene 5, Line 25). Hamlet proved himself to be weak-willed several times throughout the play, throwing his ability to commit regicide into question. First, he battled with a notion to commit culled “To be, or not to be: that Is the question… To die – To sleep… ” (Act 3. Scene 1, Line 58). He later failed to kill Claudia when Claudia would have gone to heaven at the time.
Prince Hamlet only killed Claudia at the last possible moment, when the poisoned mound he received from Alerter proved his death concrete. The act showed Hamlet’s true dilemma – his weak will could not decide whether he was more like his King Uncle or his King Father. Prince Hamlet ran Claudia through with a poisoned sword. The regicide was committed in two equal ways, the warrior way of King Hamlet, as well as the scheming poisonous way of King Claudia. Instead of the antagonist having ambition in “Hamlet”, “Macbeth”‘s ambitious character is found in the protagonist, Macbeth.
Macbeth committed regicide because the witches riled his ambitions up, “All hail, Macbeth! That shall be king hereafter! “(Act 1, Scene 3, Line 51) However, Macbeth allowed his ambition to override his moral constraints, and much like Claudia in “Hamlet”, he killed King Duncan in the middle of the night while Duncan was asleep. This sort of treacherous regicide shows the true character of Macbeth. The weak-willed Prince Hamlet started off unsure of himself, pretending to be mad, and listening to his uncle and mother but later acted boldly in front of the court to duel with Alerter and kill Claudia.
Macbeth started off compulsive, taking the words of mere apparitions to Justify suicide, an act of extreme gravity. The final act of regicide in “Macbeth” is committed an army of more than one person. However, both this case of regicide as well as Prince Hamlet’s killing of King Claudia had another major motive – revenge. Both Prince Hamlet as well as Macadam (who had his wife and children killed) and Malcolm (whose father was killed by Macbeth) had a filial Justification for vengeance. This preoccupation with vengeance shows that Shakespeare valued the virtue of honor in his characters highly.
To avenge a father or a wife and children is an honorable thing to do. To fight a duel with a more resourceful opponent is an honorable thing to do. Shakespeare used regicide as a tool to better define his characters. Prince Hamlet was seen as a falsely resolute and frustrated son avenging his father’s death. Macbeth was seen as a power-hungry foolhardy man who could not place his own morals over his ambition. Other minor characters were also defined by acts of regicide. Macadam and Malcolm were seen as characters that would beg a nation’s mortal enemy for help (England) to defeat and ultimately to avenge their family deaths.