The character of Claudius the King in Shakespeare's Hamlet is a complex individual. In the play he murders his brother, marries his former sister-in-law (the Queen), and ascends to the throne of Denmark. These three deeds were performed by a shrewd and self-serving man. The King will do almost anything to protect the throne, in spite of knowing that he did not rightfully earn it. He resorts to underhanded tactics such as spying, manipulation, and deceit in order to overcome whatever he perceives as a threat to his supreme position.
Claudius first appears in Act 1, scene 2, where he addresses the court after his marriage to the Queen. He begins by acknowledging their feelings of sorrow for the former King Hamlet, then transitions into expressing his thanks for their acceptance of the marriage. By receiving the court's acceptance of him as King, Claudius can proceed to comfortably reign and carry out the affairs of the state of Denmark.
He continues on with his speech to discuss the plans that he has developed to remedy a situation that is brewing with Young Fortinbrau. Claudius demonstrates great strategic planning skills by diverting Young Fortinbrau's revenge on Denmark and it's citizens. The Fortinbrau issue helps Claudius to prove to the court that he is "most immediate to the throne". Claudius also takes advantage of this opportunity for his own self-promotion.
Claudius had successfully gained the loyalty and respect of the court, his Queen and the state of Denmark. However, Claudius had not been able to gain any amount of loyalty and respect from Hamlet, his stepson and former nephew. Hamlet clearly does not accept his new "uncle-father" nor is he pleased with his mother's quick marriage. Claudius makes attempts to win over his "cousin and son", but is disrespected and treated...