Even in his imagination, in his talking to himself, Claudius speaks like a politician. He winds his way around this political speech to get to the bullet in the gun – which is “the present death of Hamlet.”
It is really extraordinary the way this phrase winds and winds and winds and turns and winds until it finally turns the corner onto its purpose.
And again with Claudius, I have to wonder who this is FOR. I think of political speech as being obfuscation for an audience – but in this case, the only audience (besides the audience of the play, of course) is himself. Is Claudius hiding what he’s about to do to Hamlet even from himself?
He’s talking to “England” and sure, he has cause to obscure his case for England – but England is definitely not really listening at this point.
This speech has a really interesting trajectory…this beginning, full of tangential, obfuscating political speech that leads, matter-of-factly to “the present death of Hamlet” which is crystal clear. Then the speech loses the political tone entirely and honesty starts simplifying the language and filling it with emotion. The rage leaks out and it all shifts in this sentence.