And where ‘tis so, th’offender’s scourge is weighed, But never the offence.

Where did Claudius learn this? How does he know that punishing Hamlet outright will blow back on him? It feels like he’s had some experience with this. He hasn’t been king for very long so it would seem likely that he learned his politics in the court before becoming King. What was his position before? Something like Polonius’?
Was he charged with delivering some punishments to beloved people in the past?
I can imagine a time in the past where Claudius had to do some dirty work like this for Hamlet Senior and it blowing back on him, feeding the fire of bitterness that had likely been glimmering since their childhood. Perhaps it was the moment that Claudius began hatching his plan.

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