Face the Darkness (Blog 4)

When reading Hamlet’s as a whole, the reader can draw upon many instances of Biblical references and Claudius’ confession was no exception to this. His confession seemed to struggle with the guilt that he thought he could suppress but ultimately ended up swallowing him whole and he could hold his malicious deeds inside himself no longer. In the beginning of his confession, Claudius references the story of Cain and Abel, “primal eldest curse upon’t,/ A brother’s murder” (Lines 39-40). Since Cain and Abel happened towards the beginning of the Bible, it is fitting that Claudius talks about it in the first few lines of his confession. It is setting the stage for the rest of his confession, similarly to how Cain and Abel foreshadowed the dark and devious traits of humankind to come. Who can people trust and to whom can they turn if even their own brother, flesh and blood, would kill them? Starting off with the story of Cain and Abel, it is as if Claudius is turning to their story for guidance, where can he find salvation when he has killed his brother?

Claudius then continues to reference God in the means of asking for forgiveness and redeeming himself for his sins. He now realizes how unmistakably terrible his sins were but he asks, “Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens/ To wash it white as snow?” (lines 45-46). Claudius feels that no matter what someone’s sins are, the whole point of God and heaven is to grant forgiveness for people and penance for their sins, so “whereto serves mercy/ But to confront the visage of offence?” (line 46-47). Essentially he is asking God, or anyone who many be listening, what is the point of having a heaven and redeeming sinners if some can be deemed as unforgivable? He feels that God should forgive him for his wrongs since he has realized his wrongs and have the film of guilt lifted, “my fault is past” (line 51). Claudius only wants to have his slate wiped clean and his wrongdoings forgotten.

If he were a truly devout Christian though, he would realize that though sins may be forgiven and through penance people’s conscious can be cleared, his sins goes against one of the fundamental principles on which the religion was founded. How could Claudius expect God to forgive him for this blatant act of disregard for following the rules? Claudius wanted only to relieve himself of his pain and bend the rules to work in his favor when they applied to him, “May one be pardoned and retain th’ offence?” (line 56). Claudius is asking for contradicting things in this statement and it does not seem possible for someone of his faith to be forgiven for his sins but still have to carry the weight and burden of the wrongdoing with him every second of everyday. Claudius can ask and beg for the heavens to forgive him all the pleases, but ultimately he has to live with the pain and consequences that his selfish and disgustingly traitorous actions brought upon him.


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