What is the importance of Act 1 Scene 2 to the audience's image of Claudius in Shakespeare's "Hamlet"

Essay by sstephanieHigh School, 12th grade February 2006

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At the beginning of Act 1 Scene 2 Claudius is making a speech at his brother's funeral. This is most important as a first impression of him. The speech is clearly structured in three parts, he talks about the death of the king, his marriage to the queen and the foreign problems of the state.

In these three sections it seems at first, as he speaks of his brother's death he is trying to tell the people that whilst there should be grieving for the king's death, there are also other important matters to be remembered, in simple terms: lets not get too caught up in the whole mourning thing people, we've got other stuff to think of too. "Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature that we with wisest sorrow think on him together with remembrance of ourselves." This makes the reader doubt how much in grief Claudius actually is; as a brother, it would be expected that, at least in his funeral, he'd have fond words about Hamlet Senior, a minor demonstration of sorrow perhaps, as oposoed to the constant reminders that the state is more important than the grieving for the King.

He then goes on to talk about his marriage to the Queen, he describes it as something to be happy about amongst all the sadness and again makes the reader doubt if there really is any sorrow at all there. "With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage, In equal scale weighing delight and dole Taken to wife." It also makes the more aware reader to question if this happiness in indeed due to his the thrills of marriage and the love for the Queen or his lust for power.

After this anouncement Claudius goes on to talk about the matters of...