Hamlet Themes - Guilt
From the start of this extract we can see that Cladius is suffering from guilt: "My offence is rank, it smells to heaven". Unecessary guilt can be damaging to people, but deserved feelings of guilt after wrongdoing can have good effects - people can be moved to repentance, to apologise to those they have wronged, to put right what they have done wrong wherever possible. Claudius finds guilt an obstacle to prayer ("My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent"), but only because he doesn't want to give up what he has gained by the murder - his crown and his wife. He wants to get rid of the gulit but is not willing to take the necessary steps.

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