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Polonius As A Tedious Old Fool In Shakespeare's Hamlet

1174 words - 5 pages

Polonius as a Tedious Old Fool in Shakespeare's Hamlet

'Tedious old fool', that's the phrase that comes to mind when referring to one of key characters in Shakespeare's classic, Hamlet. Polonius the father of Ophelia and Laertes and chief advisor to Claudius. Hamlet more than any character in the play has a command over the audience in respect to how the other characters are perceived. So when he refers to Polonius as a "tedious old fool" what else is the reader to think of this key player throughout the play? Many readers when considering his role in the play have labeled this phrase to Polonius. Not much argument about his age but a fool he is not. To omit Polonius significance and consider his actions as random acts of foolishness, the tragedy of Hamlet could not be revered as a classic.
First of we need to keep in mind the fact that Polonius is chief advisor to the Dane, this puts him in a great position to give an insight into one of the primary characters, Claudius. The conversations held between the king and Polonius gives the reader a more vivid picture of just how twisted the mind of Claudius is and adds to the tragic atmosphere of the play. From these dialogues Polonius exhibits that he is not as simple minded, as he seems. There is a whole lot more going on in the head of the bumbling fool than it appears to be. To show this you would have to consider the faces of Polonius, devotion to his family and loyalty to the king.
The audience is first introduced to Polonius when his son, Laertes, decides that he wants to return to Paris to finish college. At first glance, through a long in depth speech, Polonius acts as a caring father showing genuine emotion towards his son. He will not deny his son request to leave even though it would have been in his best interest to have him stay, he does not wish to be an obstacle in Laertes way so instead he enlightens him the best he could. He gives his son advice, such as, "Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;" and "to thy own self be true." Solid fatherly advice and moral statements that anyone can live by in society, these words would be exceptional helpful to those venturing from home such as Laertes. Polonius is trying to protect his son from the hardships of life, he even hires his friend to keep an eye on him. Some see this as mistrust but from an optimistic viewpoint it's a father concerned about his son staying on the right path that can be mutually beneficially. If Laertes honors his family name like every one should do, Polonius in turn will gain recognition and improve his status in the state.
One of the other characters in Hamlet that gave Polonius a bad rep is his treatment towards his daughter Ophelia. To judge him by today's standards would be unfair, it was custom in those times for a female to be submissive towards men especially in a father to daughter relationship. Respect and obedience was a must. Polonius was attempting to protect his daughter from a deranged and...

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