The Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark, Claudius, Performance Analysis, William Shakespeare -- Dramatic production.
The role of Claudius in Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Hamlet has traditionally been affixed with the label of villain, coupled with a presumption of malice. This prejudice has plagued the role, relegating it to shallow melodrama throughout the majority of the play's 440 odd-year history. Although it has now become more commonplace to see him portrayed as a capable, intelligent, even initially likable king, this has only been the case for the past 50 years or so, and even so the label of villain and the assumption of malice persist and prevail even in contemporary practice. While the author is reluctant to insist on the benevolence of the King as imperative, they do contend that Claudius should not be portrayed as a villain. Doing so undermines the primary conflict - that of Hamlet vs. Claudius - cripples the possibilities for exploration of the King as a role, hinders the potential for Hamlet's journey, and absolves the viewer of active engagement by playing directly into expectations. Within this thesis, consideration of historical analysis and editorial tradition are utilized in order to demonstrate a progressively encompassing disregard that has led to the role's neglect. An account of the 2006 University of Central Florida Conservatory Theatre production is used to validate the necessity of avoiding a villainous portrayal of the King. A brief description of the author's ideal Claudius explores the realm of possibility opened by such non-villainous portrayal, and potential for the role's complexity is examined through a thorough voice/text analysis and brief discussion of Jaques Lecoq's movement equilibrium theory via appendices.
Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Blackwelder, Kevin, "My, Claudius: A Case Against The King As Villain." (2010). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4348.