The King's Confession

Act 3. Scene 3. 36-72, by Charisse Saring

It hath the primal eldest curse upn't

This line is an allusion to the biblical story of Cain and Abel. They were the two sons of Adam and Eve, and like most siblings - they didn't always get along. This then lead to the world's first murder; Cain killing his own brother Abel. Claudius identifies himself as Cain to finally admit the sin he has committed and to also show the realization he has of how similar and immoral their situation was.

Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens

This line reveals that Claudius may not be as sorry as he really is about killing his brother. He states that there should be enough rain to wash his hands "white as snow." (3.3.46) In a way, this also demonstrates how corrupted Claudius is. He does not feel remorse for what he has done and he thinks prayer is enough to get rid of his guilt; that water can simply wash away his crime like its just dirt.

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My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen

This line becomes a turning point in Claudius' confession because just a few lines before he was set on the idea that prayer can simply relieve him from his guilt but reality has finally struck him. He realizes that although his "fault is past" there is no "form of prayer" that can serve his turn (3.3.51-52) because there would be no meaning since he is still in possession of the effects for which he did the murder (3.3.54). By the effects he means his wife who is the queen and his position as king.

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In the corrupted currents of this world

This shows the theme of decay because the world is so corrupted that criminals can easily just buy out the law (3.3.60) and they'll get away with it. Claudius also mentions how different the way things work around in the physical world compared to heaven. In heaven there is no shuffling (61), people are confronted with their own sins and must face their consequences. The fear of afterlife is one of the biggest factor as to why Claudius is repenting; he fears and wants to avoid the judgment.

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Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults

Claudius has disturbed with the natural order of the universe and because of that its slowly leading him to his downfall. He is confused and torn because he knows the only thing there is to do is to repent but it won't help him in any way since he won't give up prize possessions. His frustration has been becoming more and more evident, and this is maybe one of his consequences for upsetting the Great Chain of Being. The fear and guilt is gradually eating him alive.

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O bosom black as death!

Claudius is comparing his heart to being black as death. His desperation for a solution is overtaking him; he begs the angels for help. He realizes that repentance won't benefit him if its not what his heart wants to do. He uses personification to describe how his soul is struggling to be free (3.3.68). I think the theme "Action vs Inaction" is present in this section because Claudius know he has to repent but at the same time he also knows that there is no point of it if it has no true meaning. Its like he's deciding whether or not act upon it.

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