The Deceptive Character of Polonius in William Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

The Deceptive Character of Polonius in William Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay

Length: 1005 words (2.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Good Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Deceptive Character of Polonius in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!". This quote by
Sir Walter Scott has been heard around the world, translated into many languages, and repeated
to us by parents, teachers, and our peers. What does it truly mean? Humans create major and
possibly chaotic problems when trying to beguile others. This quote not only applies to one
person affecting another, but also how the actions of one person trying to deceive many people
through double-talk or hypocrisy lead to complex and sometimes unresolveable events. The
character Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet fits the description of one who tries to deceive others
by wearing different “masks”, double-talking, and practicing hypocrisy to gain the approval of
It is safe to assume that since he is the King’s advisor, Polonius must act as a public
person to protect the King’s best interest. Therefore; on a basic literal level, it is justifiable for
Polonius to want to spy on everyone to protect the King. However; if his actions and speeches
are examined closer, it is evident that he is a limited and vain person who is overly concerned with
his appearance and wears different masks to tune up to different people. His first mask is the one
he puts on for Laertes and Ophelia before sending Laertes off to England. He wants Laertes and
Ophelia to think of him as a wise, moral, and respectable father as shown in the following lines:
“Give thy thoughts no tongue, nor be unproportioned thought his act.... Those
friends thou hast, and adoption tried, grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of
steel.....Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice. Take every man...

... middle of paper ...

...ation to the main
themes of the play and helps us gain insight on other characters. I find the following quote to be
one of Polonius’ most ironic lines: "Madam, I swear I use no art at all," (II. ii 104). Readers
should laugh to the absurdity of this statement. Polonius used a very wicked art; deceit, to gain
knowledge that was none of his business. Polonius was a conniving, pompous hypocrite whose
“end was justified by his means.” He was literally stabbed in the back without his identity being
known to the murderer, just like he symbolically stabbed Hamlet in the back with his reports and
comments to the King questioning Hamlet’s sanity. The artificiality of Polonius suggests the kind
of world in which Hamlet and the other characters live in after his death, as well as a world in
which we live today: full of deceit, hypocrisy, pretense and masks.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on The Tragedy Of William Shakespeare 's Hamlet

- The play Hamlet has captivated audiences and readers for decades. Much like many of Shakespeare’s other plays; the first thing recognized is the inexplicable storyline. Shakespeare always generates relatable characters that are complex at heart and have a sense of mystery about them. In most cases even the most clever audience members or readers still come away not completely understanding everything about a character. This would be due to the deceptive underlying nature to the play. Contradictory doublings of thought, speech and action; especially the belying of one 's true intentions by deception....   [tags: Hamlet, Characters in Hamlet, Deception, Lie]

Good Essays
1122 words (3.2 pages)

King Claudius: The Villain In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet Essay

- In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, revenge is a common theme throughout the play. Almost every major male character in the play, whether it is Prince Hamlet, Laertes, the Ghost of King Hamlet, or King Fortinbras of Norway, is acting with purpose to avenge a death. The obvious exception to this trend in the play is Claudius, King of Denmark and brother of King Hamlet. Instead of possessing a noble or vengeful purpose throughout the play, Claudius is instead motivated by more evil qualities like his greed and deceptive natures....   [tags: Hamlet Essays]

Good Essays
684 words (2 pages)

Essay on The Complex Emotions of Hamlet

- In “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,” by the legendary playwright William Shakespeare, the titular character possesses numerous personality traits. Some of his qualities are admirable, others are inexcusable, and others still are understandable. Hamlet is a complex man; thus, throughout the story he experiences and expresses several emotions and opinions. Throughout the play, Hamlet remains in a depressive state (Cavus, par. 2). It would appear the cause of his broken emotional state is his father’s recent death and his mother’s marriage to his uncle, Claudius....   [tags: Character Analysis ]

Good Essays
1039 words (3 pages)

Hamlet by WIlliam Shakespeare Essay

- The battle between good and evil presents itself throughout William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet in numerous ways. Throughout the play, Hamlet’s struggle to follow his moral values and beliefs is evident. Hamlet can be viewed as a strong character with good intentions but had fallen vulnerable for his need to avenge his father’s death, King Hamlet. Seeking vengeance for king Hamlets death is viewed as dishonorable under the eyes of God but shows that Hamlet is as susceptible to sin as any other character in the play....   [tags: christianity, revenge, morality]

Good Essays
1446 words (4.1 pages)

The Tragedy of Hamlet by William Shakespeare Essay

- ... Stoppard recontexutalises R&G into bewildered innocents, creating meaning for Stoppardian audiences, mirroring man’s subsequent uncertainty and volatility. Stoppard utilises Absurdist theatre, similar to Beckett’s Waiting for Godot that depicts this disillusioned world “lacking visible character”, as R&G “exist” under absurd circumstances that recurringly defies logic. Existence becomes trivial through slapstick humour, “eighty-five heads in a row!” and R&G’s faltering clichés, “over my head body”....   [tags: phylosophical attitudes, comedy]

Good Essays
749 words (2.1 pages)

Essay on William Shakespeare's Hamlet

- The loss of a parent can have a traumatic effect on one. It can lead he or she to a place of sadness, darkness and depression. In Shakespeare's revenge tragedy "Hamlet", the passing of the King stirs up the same emotions in the prince Hamlet. Although, it would be the starting point of his journey filled with deceptions, murders and conspiracy. After a visit from his dead father as a ghost, and the revelation of his uncle's betrayal, Hamlet embarks on a path to avenge the death of his father (Shakespeare)....   [tags: play analysis, literary analysis, shakespeare]

Good Essays
1338 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on Motif of Madness in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

- Motif of Madness in Hamlet by William Shakespeare It is the driving force of mankind that has delivered man from the age of stone to that of industry. This force is also the essential ingredient that produces the inescapable prison of the mind, a frightful disease that may be viewed as the greatest irony of life. Pain is a dreadful disease in which every individual has felt the everlasting effects. The grief of pain can become a crashing wave that leaves behind only a semblance of sanity in its wake....   [tags: Papers]

Good Essays
775 words (2.2 pages)

The Theme of Deception in Hamlet by William Shakespeare Essay

- The Theme of Deception in Hamlet by William Shakespeare One must always be weary of the truth because it is quite often manipulated to serve the needs of any person who requires that the truth be on their side. Quite often, the only way to discern the truth from the fiction is by way of a deceptive act, because an act of deception always exposes both its self and the truth to be two quite different things. Nowhere is this more true than in William Shakespeare's, Hamlet. One of the major themes in the play is in fact, deception....   [tags: Papers]

Good Essays
1095 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on William Shakespeare's Hamlet

- William Shakespeare's Hamlet 'Hamlet', written by William Shakespeare around 1600 is one of his most famous and popular plays. Hamlet as a character is created as a complex man who is struggling with powers and plots beyond his ability to control in an effort to seek justice. In the early part of the play, Shakespeare creates some of the themes and introduces the main characters that shall continue throughout it, including Hamlet himself and his Uncle Claudius. Hamlet knows that there was something suspicious concerning the death of his father, and he strongly dislikes his uncle who married his brother's widow and became King....   [tags: Papers]

Good Essays
1749 words (5 pages)

Appearance vs. Reality in William Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay examples

- Appearance vs. Reality in William Shakespeare's Hamlet In Hamlet, one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies, there is a prevailing theme that is concurrent throughout the play. Throughout the play, all the characters appear to be one thing on the outside, yet on the inside they are completely different. The theme of appearance versus reality is prominent in Hamlet because of the fact that the characters portray themselves different from what they really are. In the play, Claudius, Hamlet's uncle, appears to be a caring, moderate man on the outside, but he is using his loving personality to mask his true traits of a selfish, mean, cold-hearted murderer....   [tags: Papers]

Good Essays
999 words (2.9 pages)