Claudius is a major character in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. He is the King of Denmark and the villainous brother of former King Hamlet. Although he is a powerful figure, Claudius is also characterized by his insecurities, as evidenced by an important plot event in the play.
When Laertes, son of the King’s advisor Polonius, returns to Denmark in Act 4, Scene 7, Claudius enlists Laertes’s help in a plot against Hamlet. Although Laertes initially refuses, he eventually agrees to help by killing Hamlet with a poisoned rapier. This plot event increases Claudius’s insecurities because it demonstrates the potential power of Laertes’s popularity with the people of Denmark. Before this event, Claudius overestimated his own power as King, but the support Laertes holds with the people of Denmark puts into perspective the limits of his rule.
This plot event serves to further highlight Claudius’s character. It reveals his insecurities and fears, even in the face of his power. This plot event serves to further emphasize the themes of insecurity, power, and fear that pervade the play. It also serves as an important reminder of Claudius’s humanity, despite his villainous acts.