In most common forms of literature, the protagonist is portrayed as purely evil and nothing else. This is not the case, however, in William Shakespeare's classic play Hamlet. Shakespeare gives the protagonist, Claudius, some actual character, making him less of a tyrannical villain and more of a human being, giving him doubts about his acts and second thoughts, much like Hamlet himself. By creating sympathy for Claudius from the audience, Shakespeare is able to create a more compelling story and enhance the fact that Hamlet is, after all, a tragedy.
The king's soliloquy begins with him speaking of his offense and claiming that it "smells to heaven". He is aware of the gravity of his crime and knows that it is far too immense a sin for God not to have taken notice. He continues with "It hath the primal eldest curse upon't, a brother's murder." In this statement he alludes to the first murder in the Bible of Abel by his brother Cain, and brings to our attention that this parallels with his situation.
He laments, "Pray can I not, though inclination be as sharp as will; my stronger guilt defeats my strong intent...", meaning that although he wants to pray for forgiveness more than anything, his guilt in the situation prevents him from deserving any.
When saying, "And like a man to double business bound, I stand in pause where I shall first begin, and both neglect." he acknowledges that due to the fact that he has two dilemmas, his crime and his prayer, he neglects to begin with either of them because he doesn't know where to start. He then asks a rhetorical question by saying, "What if this cursed hand were thicker than itself with brother's blood, is there not rain enough in the...