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Claudio is an intermediary provided by Shakespeare to handle letters from Hamlet that are delivered to Horatio in Scene 17, and in turn delivered to Claudius in Scene 18.


Pirates, pretending to be ordinary sailors, bring letters to Horatio in Scene 17. One of the letters is to Horatio, but there are also letters from Hamlet to Claudius, and to Gertrude. The delivery of the letters to Horatio, in Scene 17, takes place in the Lobby, while Laertes is confronting Claudius in the Throne Room in Scene 16. (Scene 17 is simultaneous with part of Scene 16.)

Horatio does not want to wait around until Claudius is available, nor do the pirates want to linger. So, what to do? Horatio is acquainted with a trustworthy fellow named Claudio, who is available, and Horatio gives the letters to Claudio for delivery to Claudius when possible. Horatio and the pirates then leave.

Essentially, Shakespeare provided the Claudio character to handle the necessary timing in the play, so that Claudius would not receive the letters from Hamlet too soon. Events would have taken a different course had Claudius received the letters in Scene 16 instead of Scene 18.

  • Costume - is irrelevant for Claudio, unless we take it that he is one of the courtiers (or messengers or pages) who is present on stage for atmosphere in some Scenes. In that case, he is of course costumed appropriately.


The name similarity between Claudius and Claudio is because Claudio acts as a kind of stand-in for Claudius for the role of receiving the letters from Hamlet.


Claudio has no lines.

Themes and Motifs

Most immediate for Claudio:


Claudio does his duty, offstage, by insuring the letters get delivered to Claudius.

On Stage

Claudio does not appear on stage, unless we take it he is among the courtiers, or perhaps among the messengers or pages. If he does appear on stage, he is anonymous at that time. His name appears in the dialogue in Scene 18. (Scene 18#043)

© 2015 Jeffrey Paul Jordan

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