“It is true that Hamlet dies because he postpones too long the killing of the king. But it is equally true significant that Claudius dies because he postpones too long the killing of Hamlet” (Elliott, 1951).
Great Britain has produced ones of the greatest writers of all times, with William Shakespeare being the most relevant example to sustain this statement. His Hamlet has been played for years within theaters and has even been adapted to films. The long lived success of this play is due to a multitude of elements, such as the human interest raised by murder, family affairs or ghosts, as well as the complexity of the characters constructed by the English dramatist.
The general perception is that the main character in Shakespeares tragedy is Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, as shown by the very title of the play. While the veracity of this belief is not contested, it is also important to note that there exists a character which plays a greater role — an individual who, through his own ambitions and actions, sets the course for the entire events of the play. This man is Claudius, jealous brother of the king, murderer, king himself and then, victim.
Aside from setting the context for the play by killing the king and then plotting to kill the prince, Claudius plays other major parts, such as presenting the late king in contrast with his own human weaknesses, promoting and then falling the victim of lies and deceit, being an adulterer or being the indirect murderer of not only Hamlet, but also Queen Gertrude, Ophelia, Laertes and Polonius.
Aasand, H.L., Stage Directions in Hamlet: New Essays and New Directions, Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003
Croxford, L., the Uses of Interpretation in Hamlet, Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, No. 24, 2004
Elliott, G.R., Scourge and Minister: A Study of Hamlet a Tragedy of Revengefulness and Justice, Duke University Press, 1951
Stegner, P.D., “Try What Repentance Cant”: Hamlet, Confession and the Extraction of Interiority, Shakespeare Studies, Vol. 35, 2007
Stoll, E.E., Hamlet: An Historical and Comparative Study, University of Minnesota Press, 1919