|“ Go ahead. Shoot me. Be a man. *laughs* „
~ Clayton goading Tarzan, as well as his last words."Cecil Clayton", more commonly known simply as Clayton, was the main antagonist of Tarzan. He was Tarzan's arch-nemesis.
In the original novelsEdit
Clayton appears in the very first book, Tarzan of the Apes. Clayton was a decent, honorable Englishman who inherited the Greystoke title through his uncle when Lord Greystoke went missing. He was in love with Jane, the innocent American girl who accompanied her scientist father. They were put ashore by mutineers in the same place as Tarzan's parents had been marooned twenty years ago. Clayton valiantly defended their party from vicious animals at every turn, although not as well as Tarzan did. The group found shelter in the cabin originally built by Lord Greystoke. While Tarzan was away, rescuers appeared and the group had to depart. Back in America, Jane was frightened by her feelings for now-civilized but in his mind "savage" Tarzan, and agreed to marry Clayton instead.
Tarzan discovered that he was the Greystoke heir, but claiming the title would leave Clayton and Jane penniless, so he never pursued it. Clayton knew he was not Jane's first choice, but loved her and wanted to protect her. He also realized why Tarzan gave up the title - for Jane.
In the second book, The Return of Tarzan, many misfortunes occur, eventually bringing everyone back to the cabin beach yet again. Jane is separated from the party and as Tarzan takes care of her, she falls in love with him. Meanwhile Clayton has undergone terrible hardship, including starving on a lifeboat with hungry mutineers. He escapes with his life, but near the cabin beach he develops a deadly fever. Tarzan and Jane discover him on his deathbed, where he is resigned to Jane's love for Tarzan, but is comforted knowing that Tarzan will protect and care for her. He dies with them at his side.
Clayton first started out as a rather haughty and aggressive guide who was clearly more interested in hunting animals than researching them, much to the displeasure of Jane and her father - who was searching for gorillas for research rather than for profit. Despite his behavior, Clayton didn't show signs of being a true villain at that point, though he was always slightly antagonistic. However, his antagonism worsened when the group came across Tarzan. Clayton figured that this "missing link" could be his ticket to finding the gorillas and he tried to get Tarzan to aid him.
However, Clayton was neither patient nor particularly nice, thinking of Tarzan as inferior and somewhat stupid (without knowing that Tarzan is actually both stronger and smarter than he is). Eventually, Tarzan did lead the group to the gorillas, but more out of his growing love for Jane and the way she and her father had treated him (with respect rather than insults). Clayton came along under the false promise that the gorillas wouldn't be harmed.
Once he learned of the gorillas' home, Clayton's true nature quickly surfaced as he had Jane, her father, and Tarzan captured and imprisoned - it was then Clayton revealed what he truly was: A poacher. Soon, Clayton and his henchmen begin to cause havoc in the jungle, snatching gorillas and putting them in cages, presumably to be either sold or killed.
However, Tarzan manages to escape and fights Clayton to save his family. During this conflict, Clayton shoots Kerchak dead - later, the tragedy of the moment is made worse as Kerchak finally accepts Tarzan as his son, only to die. Angered, Tarzan renews his attack on Clayton and gets the upper-hand, holding the rifle to Clayton. The poacher mocks Tarzan and tells him to shoot him and be a "man". But Tarzan regains his senses and smashes the rifle against a tree, stating bitterly to Clayton that he was "not a man like you". Clayton is unmoved and proceeds to attack Tarzan with his machete, but he's too quick and agile and uses vines to try and restrain Clayton. But this only serves to drive Clayton into a frenzy and he slashes at the vines, unaware of one of them tightening around his neck. Tarzan realizes what was happening and warned Clayton to stop, but the mad hunter wouldn't listen and ultimately cut the vine he was holding, making him plunge down as the remaining vine wrapped around his neck and effectively hanged him, snapping his neck instantly, a flash of lightning revealing his hanged corpse.
Clayton doesn't physically appear in the series, but he is mentioned once.
During one episode, Clayton's sister comes after Tarzan, seeking vengeance for what she saw as her brother's cold-blooded murder. However, when Tarzan managed at great risk to save her from a fate similar to Clayton's, she came to realize that the man who did this for her couldn't be a savage killer and left the jungle.
Clayton finds Donald and Goofy and brings them back to the tent where they are reunited with Sora. Clayton meets Tarzan and asks for the whereabouts of the gorillas, and Tarzan obeys and reveals the location. Clayton soon finds Terk the gorilla and tries to shoot her, but is stopped by Donald. He says he tried to shoot a snake attacking Terk, but they don't believe him and he is reprimanded. Furious, his anger attracts the Heartless, who he decides to use to kill off the gorillas. He kidnaps Jane and Terk and hides them in the forest and then brings the Heartless to the gorilla location. As the Heartless are about to attack, Tarzan arrives, joined by Sora, Donald and Goofy, and a battle erupts. Clayton takes aim at his enemies and uses his gun as a club, but is defeated. Clayton wasn't done yet and called upon the Stealth Sneak to help fight his enemies. Now a bigger threat than before, Clayton battled once more but was knocked down by Clayton. As he takes aim at Sora, the Stealth Sneak is subdued and falls on him, crushing his body and killing him.
Clayton initially appeared to be a chivalrous gentleman, albeit with a fragile temper and intolerance for treating the African expedition as a vacation experience, rather than a business endeavor, as the Porters were often sidetracked by sights and wildlife other than the gorillas. He was also shown a hint of hatred towards animals, and ignorance in terms of understanding them, believing gorillas to be savage beasts, in spite of Professor Porter's hypothesis that gorillas are generally social creatures. This also ties to Clayton's slight paranoia of the jungle, as he was shown to be overly protective of himself, as well as trigger-happy, blasting his gun the second he suspects that an animal, other than a gorilla, may be nearby.
As time goes on throughout the film, Clayton's patience with the Porters wanes thin, and with it, his true nature begins to unfold; one that is vicious, abusive, and conniving. By the time the climax comes forth, he is revealed to be a very sinister individual who was planning to make wealth from selling gorillas. According to the audio commentary of the Tarzan DVD, Clayton's actions during his final moments in the film were meant to mirror the film's initial antagonist, Sabor, thus symbolizing Clayton's increasing lack of humanity and descent into animalistic madness.