The Character Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet Essay examples
535 Words3 Pages
The Character Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet *No Works Cited
In Hamlet, Polonius is a well-respected and important person. It seems appropriate that he investigates and controls the behavior of his son Laertes and daughter Ophelia. He, as the Lord Chamberlain of Claudius' courts, is no longer a private person but a public one. What he or his children do has important communal, not just personal implications. 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 many masks to communicate with different people. By analyzing the speech in Act II, scene ii, 85-112 it is closely revealed that there are…show more content…
This is evident in his language full of signals and vanity:
This business is well ended/ my liege, and madam, to expostulate/ what majesty should be, what duty is/ why day is day, night night, and time is time/ were nothing but to waste night, day and time/ therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit/ and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes/
I will be brief, your noble son is mad. (II. ii. 85-94)
This speech is a wonderful relief from the tension and tragic seriousness throughout the tragedy. Here, it is evident that Polonius is the clown of the play. His use of metaphors and play on words, all delivered in the supreme confidence in his own ability, result in a crazy misrepresentation. What is most amusing is that Polonius is his own critic, when talking about night, day and time. He concludes, "brevity is the soul of wit." (II. ii.90) Also, after indulging in another exercise involving the words true and pity, he exclaims, "A foolish figure!" (II. ii. 98) Polonius tries to put on a show of his funniness by delivering a lecture about what he considers philosophical questions such as those about the nature of night, time, day and duty. However, this is all obvious and not worth speaking about to the reader. Polonius' funny language that emphasizes how profound this subject matter is in his opinion makes this all the more comical. Also the
The Roles of Polonius in The Tragedy of Hamlet Essay
2058 Words9 Pages
The Roles of Polonius in Hamlet
As a secondary character, Polonius' roles in Hamlet are ingenious in their variety and purpose. Shakespeare's masterfully crafted play contains such a multi-faceted character in a sense of economy; Polonius fulfills the roles potentially played by several insignificant characters. Polonius plays the wise old man, the fool, the substitute for the king, and the scapegoat (Oakes). Shakespeare's reasons behind the creation of such a significant secondary character are important to the play as a whole. Polonius roles add a crucial dimension to the play's development of plot, the characterization of Hamlet, and the themes Shakespeare ultimately conveys.
From his first appearances, Polonius seems to…show more content…
James L. Calderwood describes Polonius' counsel to his son: "imposing patterns of prudential wisdom on the departing Laertes--establishes the dominance of father over son…control through precept is reinforced by control through spying…in Act two scene one, where Polonius coaches Reynaldo in the subtleties of surveillance" (Calderwood 16). Ultimately, Polonius' advice to his children serves his own interests. He is consciously controlling his image as the wise old courtier and father, but he does not practice his own teachings. The wise old man routine is short-lived once his pre-occupations (his image and duties as lord chamberlain) are made clear.
Polonius' pre-occupation with his courtly duties overshadows his character as the wise old man and marks his role as the fool. As the fool, Polonius provides comic relief, and a "busybody" messenger for the court. His speech, for all its wisdom, "makes him so comic and absurd. All his ludicrous exhibitions of pedantry and expertise, his mouthings of clichés and commonplaces, his observations and definitions--all imprison the mind's potential range in littleness" (Long 137). In addition to his speech being superfluous, Polonius' messages to Hamlet are quite ironic. The arrival of the Players and Gertrude's request to speak with Hamlet have already been relayed to Hamlet before Polonius repeats the messages. This foolish redundancy is comic and even more so is Polonius'