Claudius, King of Denmark

[This is an annotated list of all appearances and all mentions of this character.]

Gareth Thomas as King Claudius

Derek Jacobi as King Claudius

Patrick Stewart as King Claudius

Alan Bates as King Claudius

Phil Hubbard as King Claudius

Anthony Hopkins as King Claudius

"Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death / The memory be green" (1.2.1-2). Claudius, the new King of Denmark, justifies his quick marriage to the widowed Queen. Later in this scene he sends ambassadors to deal with the problem posed by Fortinbras, gives Laertes permission to return to France, and deals with Hamlet. [Scene Summary]

"The king doth wake to-night and takes his rouse" (1.4.8). As Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus await the appearance of the Ghost, they hear what is described in Shakespeare's stage direction: "A flourish of trumpets, and two pieces [cannons] goes off." Horatio asks about the noise, and Hamlet explains that this is how the King celebrates his own drinking. [Scene Summary]

"The serpent that did sting thy father's life / Now wears his crown" (1.5.39-40). The Ghost tells Hamlet the story of how Claudius seduced his sister-in-law and poisoned his brother. [Scene Summary]

"Come, go we to the king: / This must be known" (2.1.114-115), says Polonius, after Ophelia tells him about Hamlet's strange visit, and Polonius concludes that Hamlet's behavior is "the very ecstasy of love." [Scene Summary]

"Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern" (2.2.1). The King tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that he wants them to find out what's wrong with Hamlet. Later in the scene Polonius almost persuades him that Hamlet is mad for love of Ophelia, and he agrees to Polonius' plan to spy on Hamlet. [Scene Summary]

"Bloody, bawdy villain! / Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!" (2.2.580-581). So Hamlet calls the King in his second soliloquy. Moments later, he says "the play's the thing / Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King." [Scene Summary]

"And can you, by no drift of circumstance / Get from him why he puts on this confusion . . . ?" (3.1.1-2). Thus the King questions Rosencrantz and Guildenstern at the beginning of the scene in which he and Polonius spy on Hamlet as he is talking with Ophelia. The King has a brief attack of conscience before he hides to spy on Hamlet. At the end of the scene he is sure that love is not Hamlet's problem and has decided to send him to England. [Scene Summary]

"How fares our cousin Hamlet?" (3.2.92), asks the King, as he comes in to see the The Murder of Gonzago. He leaves when the play--and Hamlet--point the finger of guilt at him. [Scene Summary]

The King "Is in his retirement marvellous distempered" (3.2.301) says Guildenstern to Hamlet, shortly after the King has left the performance of The Murder of Gonzago. Hamlet puns that he's probably drunk, or perhaps sick. [Scene Summary]

"I like him not, nor stands it safe with us / To let his madness range" (3.3.1-2), says the King of Hamlet. He gives Rosencrantz and Guildenstern the job of escorting Hamlet to England. Later in the scene, saying "O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven" (3.3.36), the King tries to pray, but fails. [Scene Summary]

"Look here, upon this picture, and on this, / The counterfeit presentment of two brothers" (3.4.53-54), says Hamlet to his mother, showing her pictures of King Hamlet and King Claudius. He goes on to denounce Claudius as an ugly murderer who "from a shelf the precious diadem stole, / And put it in his pocket!" (3.4.100-101). Later in the scene, he calls Claudius "the bloat king" (3.4.182), and urges his mother to stay out of the King's bed. [Scene Summary]

"There's matter in these sighs, these profound heaves" (4.1.1), says the King to the Queen at the beginning of the scene in which she tells him that Hamlet has killed Polonius. The King is worried that he'll be blamed for not keeping a better watch on Hamlet, and he is anxious to get Hamlet off to England. [Scene Summary]

"The body is with the king, but the king is not with the body. The king is a thing--" (4.2.27-28) says Hamlet, and finishes the jest with "Of nothing." This is in the scene in which the King gets Hamlet to tell him where Polonius' body is and sends Hamlet off to England. [Scene Summary]

"Go, captain, from me greet the Danish king" (4.4.1), says Fortinbras, as he marches across the stage on his way to Poland. If need be, Fortinbras will "express our duty" to the King in person. [Scene Summary]

"How do you, pretty lady?" (4.5.41), says the King to mad Ophelia. Later in the scene Laertes bursts in, demanding revenge for his father's death, but the King faces him down and talks him into hearing his side of the story. [Scene Summary]

"Let the king have the letters I have sent" (4.622-23) Hamlet writes to Horatio after he has returned to Denmark on a pirate ship. [Scene Summary]

"Now must your conscience my acquittance seal, / And you must put me in your heart for friend," (4.7.1-2) the King says to Laertes, at the opening of the scene in which the King gets Laertes to see things his way, and the two of them plot Hamlet's death. [Scene Summary]

"Pluck them asunder" (5.1.264), orders the King when Hamlet and Laertes are grappling in Ophelia's grave. He tries to calm Laertes by telling him Hamlet is mad, but at the end of the scene he reassures Laertes that "We'll put the matter to the present push" (5.1.295), the "matter" being their plot to kill Hamlet. [Scene Summary]

"O royal knavery!" (5.2.19), Hamlet exclaims, in the course of explaining to Horatio how he discovered that King Claudius had ordered the King of England to behead him. Later in the scene, the King himself comes in to witness the fencing match between Hamlet and Laertes. Before the match begins, the King has Hamlet and Laertes shake hands, saying "Come, Hamlet, come, and take this hand from me" (5.2.225). Near the end of the play he watches his wife drink from the poisoned wine, but does not save her. Moments later Hamlet kills him by stabbing him with the poisoned sword and forcing the poisoned wine down his throat. [Scene Summary]