The Shape of Grief in Hamlet

Happy Halloween!

Want to read something creepy? Shakespeare’s Hamlet has you covered with ghosts, murder, insanity, and more!

Today my review/analysis of Claudius’s creepy, evil character is featured on Matthew O’Connell’s blog.  He posts atypical book reviews that focus more on a particular aspect of a book.  If you haven’t already, you should definitely check it out! Here’s a sneak peak of my post:


Inspired by Robert Schumann’s “Verrufene Stelle” from Waldszenen, Op. 82, a classical music work (as performed by Sviatoslav Richter).

Hamlet is easily one of my favorite plays for reasons too numerous to go into here. So I’m just going to focus on Claudius: Hamlet’s evil, murdering, and incestuous uncle.

How can we understand his character? He’s obviously committed the horrible crime of killing his royal brother as well as the highly questionable act of marrying that brother’s wife shortly thereafter…We don’t explicitly know what he was like before the murder, but it’s still reasonable to infer that the murder and marriage were his first “large” sins because of the torturous guilt and echoes of remorse he experiences later on in the play. A repeat criminal would perhaps be hardened, but a first-time criminal may struggle with the emotional aftermath of his actions. Actually, such a character transformation also occurs in Shakespeare’s Macbeth: Macbeth originally doesn’t want to murder King Duncan. It’s his wife that incites him with the deprecatory lines:

“I have given suck, and know
How tender ‘tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this”


“But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we’ll not fail.”

Read more here!

5 thoughts on “The Shape of Grief in Hamlet”

  1. Claudius really is an interesting character (I even wrote a short story from his point of view because of that). And I think that’s why Hamlet is such a great play – there are so many things left unsaid and it can be interpreted in many different ways.

    Liked by 1 person

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