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Ministry of Education.

Worksheet 1: The character of Claudius - act 1 scenes 2, 4 and 5


"On the whole, there emerges a King who is well qualified for office..." (Lokes, Outrageous Fortune, 79)

Find evidence (from his own speeches and those of others) that Claudius is:

  • a strong orator
  • a capable ruler over foreign affairs
  • a diplomatic ruler of his own people
  • skilful in his dealings with individuals


 Find evidence (from his own speeches and those of others) that Claudius:

  • is a murderer (fratricide and regicide)
  • has married his sister-in-law, a relative through marriage
  • has usurped the throne of his brother
  • is lustful and excessive, enjoying drinking

Share your evidence with the rest of the class. 

What, then, is the overall picture Shakespeare paints of this character? How far are his qualities genuine? Or is he merely presenting a slick veneer?

Does one aspect of him outweigh another (i.e. is he more of a negative than a positive character)?

Published on: 08 Dec 2010