Claudius is afraid of Hamlet and wants to silence him and put “fetters upon this fear.” He plans on sending his nephew away to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
The manipulative nature of Claudius helps him fool everyone around him. He keeps the mask of a decent man, a caring ruler, a gentle husband. This “smiling scoundrel” does not bind himself to any moral standards. Violating his oath, seducing the queen, and killing his brother are among his vices. Besides, he carries out insidious plans against the rightful heir:
- He offers Hamlet to accept him as a father and makes him an heir.
- He asks Hamlet to stay in Denmark and not to return to school in Wittenberg.
- He sends him away to England.
Having committed one crime, however, Claudius is ready to stop. He seeks to consolidate his position by peaceful means. First, the king wants to protect Denmark from the possible raid of Fortinbras, and secondly, he wishes to make peace with his nephew.
The relationship between Hamlet and Claudius is based on a lie from the beginning. Claudius knows that he has taken the throne away from his nephew and decides to soften this loss by declaring Hamlet his heir. In Act I, Scene 2, Claudius offers to be a father figure. The following quote shows how he starts his manipulation of Hamlet:
We pray you throw to earth
This unprevailing woe, and think of us
As of a father; for let the world take note
You are the most immediate to our throne.
(Act I, Scene 2)
He addresses Hamlet with flattering words and fake concern. The only thing he requires of Hamlet is not to leave the Danish court. Claudius is experienced in politics and fears that Hamlet would gather an army to capture the Danish crown by force. If the prince is near, it will be easier to keep an eye on him. Claudius does not believe the rumor about Hamlet’s madness.
Thus, Hamlet says to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern about Denmark: “to me it is a prison” (Act II, Scene 2). However, in Act III, Scene 3, Claudius changes his mind and decides to get rid of the troublesome prince by asking Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to accompany him to England.