Tragedy of Polonius' Family in Hamlet

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Tragedy of Polonius' Family in Hamlet Shakespeare In Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, the death of a character becomes a frequent event. Although many people lose their lives as a result of their own self-centered wrongdoing, there are others whose deaths are the result of manipulation by royalty. This is the case with Polonius' family. The real tragedy of Hamlet is not that of Hamlet or his family, but of Polonius' family, because their deaths were not the consequence of sinful actions of their own but, rather, of their innocent involvement in the schemes of Claudius and Hamlet. The first character to die, in Hamlet, is Polonius. Although Polonius often acts in a deceitful manner when dealing with Hamlet, it is only because he is carrying out royally devised plans to discover the nature of Hamlet's madness. Being the king's Lord Chamberlain, it is his duty to obey the wishes of the king and queen and it is this loyalty that eventually proves to be fatal for him. Hamlet stabs Polonius as he hides in the Queen’s room. “Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell! I took thee for thy better”(III.iv.38-39). This shows how Polonius, a man unaware of the true nature of the situation he is in, is killed by a member of the royalty during the execution of one of their schemes. This makes Polonius' death a tragedy. The next member of Polonius' family, to die, is his daughter, Ophelia. Ophelia's death is tragic because of her complete innocence in the situation. Some may argue that Polonius deserves his fate because of his deceitfulness in dealing with Hamlet while he is mad; but Ophelia is entirely manipulated and used, by Hamlet and the king, for their own selfish reasons. Hamlet uses her to convince his family he is mad. He took me by the wrist and held me hard; Then goes he to the length of all his arm, And, with his other hand thus o’er his brow, He falls to such perusal of my face As he would draw it. Long stayed he so”(II.i.98-102). Although this is subject to interpretation, and many believe that this is simply Hamlet taking one last look at Ophelia before he becomes engaged in his plan to kill Claudius, the fact that he scares her and does not try to alleviate these fears, points to the conclusion that he is simply using her to help spread word of his madness throughout the kingdom, via Polonius.

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