Conflict Between Hamlet And King Claudius
The first sign of conflict between Hamlet and Claudius is in the first act. There is an exchange that happens right after Claudius reveals that the dead king was Claudius' brother and that Claudius has married his brother’s widow, making Hamlet his “son.” Claudius refers to Hamlet as his son, and Hamlet's response is, "a little more than kin, and less than kind." Claudius wants Hamlet to be his son; Hamlet does not like that his uncle married his mom. This interaction shows the beginning of the one-sided conflict. There is another conversation that happens when Hamlet meets the ghost of his father for the first time: Ghost: The serpent that did sting thy father's life Now wears his crown. Hamlet: Oh, my prophetic soul! Mine uncle? (I.ii.25-41) Hamlet meets the ghost is the true beginning of the central conflict in the play. At this point, his pursuit of revenge towards Claudius starts.
The conflict between Hamlet and Claudius intensifies when Hamlet attempts to prove he murdered the king before taking action. After speaking to the spirit, Hamlet becomes suspicious of whether or not the ghost was being truthful. Hamlet doubts the ghost because he believes the ghost is a demon and trying to get him to murder so he will go to hell. "I'll have grounds More relative than this. The play's the thing Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king," Hamlet says this after the players arrive, giving the idea of putting on a play that mimics the death of his father the way the ghost described it. Claudius speaks to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern after the play when he realizes that Hamlet knows he murdered his brother, the previous king. Therefore Hamlet becomes a threat to Claudius. "I like him not, nor stands it safe with us To let his madness range./our estate may not endure Hazard so dangerous as doth hourly grow Out of his lunacies." Claudius fails to immediately dispose of his enemy because he chooses to hesitate, similar to Hamlet. He additionally does not want to risk losing Gertrude. The conflict contributes to the meaning of the work because both Hamlet and Claudius hesitated to make decisions that might have prevented the tragedy that lead to everyone dying. In act four, scene seven, Claudius speaks to Laertes when he is sharing his plan to rid himself of Hamlet by arranging a duel to give Laertes and the chance to kill him “accidentally." "That we would do, we should do when we would, for this ‘would’ changes, And hath abatements and delays as many as there are tongues, are hands, are accidents.
"Claudius’s words illustrate what causes all of the deaths in the play. Hamlet does not take his revenge when he has the opportunity, and so kills Polonius by mistake. Likewise, Claudius doesn’t kill or imprison Hamlet when he has the opportunity, and thus all of the other deaths occur in the last scene.