A murderer and a villain, A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe Of your precedent lord, a vice of kings, A cutpurse of the empire and the rule, That from a shelf the precious diadem stole And put it in his pocket –

This first part is obviously true. Claudius is a murderer and a villain.
Which is interesting because this is the first time Hamlet’s let on to his mother about the murdery part – which really is enough of a problem. Probably if he just calmly said, “I am now certain beyond a reasonable doubt that Claudius murdered my Dad. The ghost came and told me so and Claudius’ reaction confirmed it. Did you know? Are you guilty, too? The ghost says not. But…”

However – he just skims right over this murdery business and goes on to a really interesting diatribe about how shitty a king Claudius is. This is interesting to me – because there are some ways that Claudius is actually not so bad. He’s a good politician. He speaks the lingo anyway – and he does avert a war with Norway at the top of the play.

But Hamlet thinks he’s a king of vice. His drinking, he’s previously let us know, is a problem.

At first I thought Hamlet was saying that Claudius was stealing money from the country’s coffers – that he was embezzling somehow – but now I see “a cutpurse of the empire and the rule” as more of a thief of the kingship. He stole the COUNTRY by usurping the throne. He doesn’t mention that Claudius has stolen the throne as much for him as his father. He’s weirdly mum about the succession. Other characters, in other plays, who were meant to be king and lost it, will have a lot to say on the subject – Hamlet does not. I wonder what that’s about.

This is a good fun rant, though.

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