Polonius Is Folish Essay

1787 words - 7 pages

Polonius: A Fool in Shakespeare's Hamlet Hamlet is the most popular of Shakespeare's plays for theater audiences and readers. It has been acted live in countries throughout the world and has been translated into every language. Polonius is one of the major characters in Hamlet, his role in the play is of great interest to scholars. Parts of Hamlet present Polonius as a fool, whose love of his own voice leads to his constant babbling. Scholars have been analyzing the character of Polonius for centuries, and his role in Hamlet will continue to be analyzed for centuries to come. Scholars believe that Shakespeare created Polonius as a fool because of his foolish dialogue throughout the play. Polonius granted Laertes permission to go back to school in France. While saying good-bye in his chambers, Polonius tells his son: Beware Of entrance to a quarrel, but, being in, Bear't that th' opposed may beware of thee. Give every man they ear, but few thy voice. Take each man's censure, but reserve they judgment. Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, But not expressed in fancy (rich, not gaudy) For the apparel oft proclaims the man, And they in France of the best rank and station (Are) of a most select and generous chief in that. Neither a borrower or a lender (be,) For (loan) oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing (dulls the) edge of husbandry. This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.(1. 3. 71-87) The advice that Polonius gives to Laertes is simple and sounds foolish being told to a person of Laertes' age. Martin Orkin comments on the nature of Polonius' speech: 2 "Shakespeare's first audience would recognize in Polonius' predilection for such commonplace expressions of worldly wisdom a mind that runs along conventional tracks, sticking only to what is practically useful in terms of worldly self-advancement" (Orkin 179). Polonius gives Laertes simple advice, to keep his thoughts to himself and to never lend or borrow money. While this advice is simple, when looked at in full context his advice to his son is all about self-advancement. Polonius will go to all extremes to protect his reputation. Grebanier states on the foolishness of Polonius' speech: "Such guidance will do for those who wish to make the world their prey, but it is dignified by no humanity.Who can live humanly without ever borrowing or lending? Is one to turn his back on his best friend in an hour of need?" (Grebanier 285). Scholars believe that the advice Polonius gives to his son is simple, an when looked at in full context, is foolish and selfish. After Laertes returns to Paris, Polonius send his servant Reynaldo to Paris to spy on Laertes and question his acquaintances. Polonius says to Reynaldo: At "closes in the consequence"-ay, marry- He closes thus: "I know the gentleman. I saw him yesterday," or "th' other day" (Or then, or then, with such or such), "and as you say, There was...

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