Shakespeare's Hamlet - Polonius

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Hamlet’s Polonius Gunnar Boklund in “Judgment in Hamlet” gives an overall evaluation of the personality of Polonius in Shakespeare’s tragic drama, Hamlet: Of the minor weeds which disturb Hamlet, Polonius is the most troublesome. We know that his advice to Ophelia and Laertes closely parallels the wisdom that eminently respectable Elizabethan fathers bestowed on their children; prudence was a more commendable virtue in the Renaissance than now, and the sentiment of “This above all, to thine own self be true” remains, I should hope, unexceptionable today. But Polonius’ prudence, loyalty to the King, and pitiful death in his service do not make him the “good old man” that the Queen sees in him. He is a gentleman of the situation who, for his own and his master’s purposes, manipulates human beings, including his own children, and who does not even do it very well. (122) This essay will evaluate and interpret the character of this wise, old father of Ophelia and Laertes. Polonius’ entry into the play occurs at the social get-together of the royal court. Claudius has already been crowned; Queen Gertrude is there; Hamlet is present in the black clothes of mourning. When Laertes approaches Claudius to give his farewell before returning to school, the king asks Polonius: “Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?” And the father dutifully answers: He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave By laboursome petition, and at last Upon his will I seal'd my hard consent: I do beseech you, give him leave to go. (1.2) So right at the outset the reader/viewer respects the lord chamberlain as a very fluent spokesman of the language, and respectful of his superior, the king. Later, in Polonius’ house, Laertes is taking leave of his sister, Ophelia, and, in the process, giving her conservative advice regarding her boyfriend, Hamlet. Quietly Polonius enters and begins to advise Laertes regarding life away from home: Give thy thoughts no tongue, Nor any unproportioned thought his act. Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar. Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel; But do not dull thy palm with entertainment Of each new-hatch'd, unfledged comrade. Beware Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
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