Deception


“Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee

And his commission to employ those soldiers,

So levied as before, against the Polack,

With an entreaty, herein further shown,

That it might please you to give quiet pass

Through your dominions for this enterprise,

On such regards of safety and allowance.”

 

When Voltemand tells Claudius that the King of Norway requests passage through Denmark for Poland with the guarantee of safety, the King is being deceptive and plans to attack Denmark. Previously, Fortinbras went behind his uncle’s back and prepared troops to attack Denmark, rather than Poland, and if Claudius allows the Norwegians to pass through Denmark, they may attack. Voltemand, the ambassador, reports that the King of Norway gave Fortinbras “three thousand crowns in annual fee and his commission to employ those soldiers” and asks that Claudius “give quiet pass through (his) dominions for this enterprise, on such regards of safety and allowance.” This statement was made to display the King of Norway’s newfound confidence in his nephew’s trustworthiness, seen through his endowment of a large annual income, and to forge companionship between the two nations, showed through his promise of safety. While it appears as though the King of Norway was initially furious with his nephew for taking advantageous of his age and deteriorating health, his seemingly good intentioned confessions of Fortinbras’ faults to Claudius is a ploy. The King of Norway’s profession to Claudius, who would have never known Fortinbras’ plans of attack because no actions were even taken against Denmark, is his way of trying to appear credible and honest. The King of Norway is trying to gain Claudius’ trust and appear as though his newfound control of his nephew makes the Norwegians no threat to Denmark. Additionally, at this time, family honor and reputation were everything, so for the King of Norway to not only speak out so unfavorably against his own nephew, but also rebuke him, was a dramatic way to get Claudius’ attention and was used as a way to sway Claudius’ faith in them. In conclusion, the king of Norway’s confession for his nephew’s actions and plea for passage is a sham enticing Claudius to let his guard down just enough for the Norwegians to swoop in and attack Denmark. 

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