This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Role And Significance Of Polonius In Hamlet

824 words - 3 pages

As with many plays, actors in Shakespeare’s, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, are at liberty to alter the portrayal of their characters. Because of this, the significance and subtleties of various characters can be lost in varying adaptations of the play. This holds true for the character Polonius, who is often incorrectly portrayed as a oblivious and foolish yet caring father. Rather, Shakespeare implicitly and explicitly establishes Polonius as a character in full control of his wits. Polonius’ interaction with other characters throughout the play highlights his cunning, wit, and selfishness.
Polonius’ interactions with Hamlet are often the source of misinterpretations that Polonius is a bumbling fool. In every conversation, Polonius appears oblivious to the witty and cruel remarks Hamlet makes in response to his persistent questioning. Even when explicitly called a “fishmonger,” Polonius feigns surprised ignorance and suggests that Hamlet is insane rather than sarcastic (II.ii.187). He appears to continue ignoring Hamlet’s thinly veiled insults even when Hamlet compares Ophelia to “maggots in a dead dog,” assuming that Hamlet is “still harping on [his] daughter” (II.ii.669). However, Polonius is not the “tedious old fool” that he appears to be; just as Hamlet confessed to being “not in madness,/But mad in craft,” Polonius merely feigns stupidity (II.ii.224; III.iv.204-5). By pretending to be clueless, Polonius is able to question and study Hamlet further without suspicion that he is spying, thus emphasizing his deceitful nature.
The unmasking of Polonius as a cunning manipulator instead of a moronic old man also exposes his humor throughout the play. While his remarks are more sublime compared to Hamlet’s, Polonius’ remarks display a comedic tone that contrast with his malevolent actions. His interjection that a speech given by an actor of Hamlet’s play, a speech that illustrates the tragic death of Priam, is “too long” lightens an otherwise depressing scene (II.ii.455). Polonius’ charade of being a fool continues as he discusses the shape of a cloud with Hamlet by agreeing to whatever animal Hamlet proposes the cloud to be, whether it be a “camel,” a “weasel”, or a “whale” (III.ii.331-335). This added comedic nature to Polonius reaffirms the idea that he wittier than often given credit for.
Polonius’ wit, coupled with his inclination towards deceit and espionage, emphasize the notion that he represents a dramatic foil for Claudius in the play. While both characters are father figures and share similar motives, their courses of action differ significantly. Polonius attempts to avoid confrontation and merely remain the...

Find Another Essay On The Role and Significance of Polonius in Hamlet

Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet and John Updike's Gertrude and Claudius

2010 words - 8 pages Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet and John Updike's Gertrude and Claudius In every royal court throughout history, there has been the man who knows everything about everyone, and generally has the ear of the king; Shakespeare’s court of Denmark is no exception. Polonius, adviser and Lord Chamberlain to King Hamlet and Claudius, seems to know every intrigue, every alliance made in the interwoven royal court. In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet

Polonius in William Shakespeare’s, Hamlet Essay

666 words - 3 pages In William Shakespeare’s, Hamlet, the author brings to life, a story of revenge, betrayal, love, hate and friendship. Polonius, although seen as a conniving old man, deeply loves his children. Polonius is constantly giving his children the sound advice that we would give our own children. He is only looking out for the best interest of his children, although not always seen that way. He is viewed as the bad guy, only because Hamlet is the good

Character Analysis of Ophelia and how she conects the two plots of the play Hamlet. The two plots are the Hamlet Plot and the Polonius plot

1254 words - 5 pages Polonius', as well as set the actions of the play into motion. Polonius and Claudius use Ophelia's weakness to facilitate their testing of Hamlet. Hamlet, on the other hand, manipulates Ophelia to conceal his true intentions from Polonius and the court. Ophelia's vulnerability enables the two plots of the play to coexist. Ophelia's death marks the point in the play where the two plots come together. Ophelia's vulnerability makes her a key character

The Role of Deception in Hamlet

1267 words - 5 pages The Role of Deception in Hamlet     In the play Hamlet, deception is a major factor in the cause of the deaths of all those who die in the play, including Hamlet himself. The following paragraphs will outline the deception involved in the deaths of various characters including: Polonius, Gertrude, Laertes, Ophelia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and Old Hamlet; as well as the downfall of the antagonist and protagonist: Claudius and Hamlet

The Role of Fortinbras in Shakespeare's Hamlet

1293 words - 5 pages prepares. Being one of the first writers to develop dynamic and intricate characters that leave the readers to question and interpret the characters’ actions for themselves, Shakespeare understood better than anybody else "what a piece of work is a man!" (2.2.305). In the play Hamlet, Shakespeare expresses this idea of the complexity of man through his casting of Prince Hamlet. By understanding the meaning behind the role and function of

The Role Of Women in Hamlet

1298 words - 5 pages happiness of the men in her life, and this was her tragic flaw that regrettably leads to her death. In Shakespeare’s time, men and women were seen unequal in society. This, having an effect on the way William Shakespeare wrote his plays, directly influenced the role Queen Gertrude played in Hamlet. Her tragic flaw was her corrupted and self-sacrificing nature towards the men that were harsh and cruel towards her. Her son, Hamlet, disregarded her

Eulogy of King Hamlet by Polonius

624 words - 2 pages We are gathered here to day not to mourn, but to celebrate the life of a great man, who stood out in society not just because fo his position as a king but because he was a loving father, strong leader, and loyal friend. The tremendous respect that I and many others held for him is such taht I do not believe any tribute I could give would do King Hamlet justice. It is for this reason that I would like you to thin knot about my words , but rather

The Role of Alfieri and His Dramatic Significance in the Play

1587 words - 6 pages Explore The Role Of Alfieri And Discuss His Dramatic Significance In The Play The play is set in Red Hook, in Brooklyn, in New York. It is set in the 1940's. Red Hook is a poor local community with many immigrants. Immigrants went to America because of the depression in Europe so people wanted work, and America was seen as a place of freedom and opportunity, otherwise known as 'The American Dream'. The play is mainly based on the

The Dramatic Significance in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

2935 words - 12 pages The Dramatic Significance in William Shakespeare's Hamlet Ans. Hamlet is the most complex but also the most entertaining of all Shakespeare's plays. It deals with the central character Hamlet a young man who is of an intellectual thoughtful and philosophical nature. The play is about how this young man is asked to do an action that is beyond him. The ghost of his beloved father appears to him and enjoins him the

Significance of Canada's Role in the Korean War

1079 words - 5 pages negotiations stalled. Canada’s navy played a noteworthy role in defending UN aircraft carriers for the chance to apply political pressure against North Korea. As Canada’s eight naval ships defended the UN aircraft, a mass series of bombings took place on 13 hydroelectric generating facilities known as the Attacks on Sui-Ho Dam. The UN wanted to make the message clear that they were willing to make this war as difficult and expensive as possible

The Role of the Double Plot in King Lear and Hamlet

1632 words - 7 pages , who acted as both an irritant to Hamlet and a strong motivating force for Laertes within the play. This is epitomized in the contrast between Hamlet’s description of Polonius as “most secret, and most grave, who was in life a foolish prating knave.” (3.4.237-238) compared to Laertes’ deferential “Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.” (1.3.88). Similarly, Polonius’ role reflects the respect that these two characters express towards him. Hamlet

Similar Essays

Essay On The Manipulation Of Polonius And Ophelia In Hamlet

1009 words - 4 pages The Manipulation of Polonius and Ophelia in Hamlet        The main plot of Shakespeare's Hamlet centers around Prince Hamlet's desire to repay King Claudius for his evil deeds. Around this central action revolve the stories concerning the minor characters of Polonius and Ophelia. Though they do not motivate Hamlet's actions towards the King, these characters act as forces upon Hamlet himself, trying to spur him to do things he does not

Hamlet: The Wisdom Of Polonius Essay

1285 words - 5 pages society run on the lines of Polonius, every man being true to himself or to his own class, will not in the long run work, but will infallibly explode, with hideous ruin and combustion, into chaos, and make way for a society which shall be less selfish.  In the play, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, Polonius proclaims: To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man

The Deceptive Character Of Polonius In William Shakespeare's Hamlet

1323 words - 5 pages 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

The Significance Of The Players In Hamlet

935 words - 4 pages The Significance of the Players in Hamlet      Most characters in Hamlet present themselves as something other than themselves or how as we, the audience, or another character thinks they should appear.  Two of the main characters in this play, Hamlet and King Claudius, are constantly acting as something other than their true nature.    Ironically, the characters that invoke changes in Hamlet and King Claudius to reveal their real