Polonius is a verbose, faltering old man whose servile devotion to Claudius renders him slimy, untrustworthy, and pathetic in the eyes of Hamlet. Although referred by Hamlet as “ tedious old fool ”, Polonius has a very sincere aspect too. Polonius will be listening to that conversation. Britannica now has a site just for parents! 19. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. He is concerned with appearances, especially the reputations of his children. Who asks Hamlet to remember him? In the same scene, Polonius advises his daughter Ophelia to avoid Hamlet because he’s worried about her. Check out the scene where Hamlet's directing the players (actors). Hamlet. Few who proclaim the words “to thine own self be true” are aware of the irony in their original context, coming as they do after 19 lines of stern and sometimes contradictory admonition to his son Laertes. Who dies by drowning? J.D. Laertes passionately pursues revenge, and Ophelia feels so struck with grief that she goes mad. Nevertheless, the exception to this is one of the most important female characters: Polonius ' daughter Ophelia. Polonius also provides Hamlet with its main source of comic relief. Polonius may be elderly and demented, but he must have been at least politically adept. Horatio is loyal and helpful to Hamlet throughout the play. And he has indeed the function of a counsellor at the court of Claudius, which is among others shown by his again and again giving Claudius advice concerning Hamlet. Polonius is brilliant as a courtier. Polonius takes his last attempt to spy on Hamlet. Polonius is the father of Ophelia and Laertes. Laertes is Polonius’s son and Ophelia’s brother, as well as a clear foil to Hamlet. His meddling garrulousness eventually costs him his life. But unlike the figure responsible for guiding and instructing the hero, Polonius “inverts the figure” by being overly concerned with his own social/political position (105). Polonius. Help! Punching down is Hamlet’s usual style with social inferiors: Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and Osric all experience similar treatment. To further prove Hamlet’s madness, he explains his findings to the king and queen. In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius is the chief counselor to Claudius, as well as the father of Laertes and Ophelia. (Annoying!) The secure and happy family unit of Polonius, Laertes, and Ophelia provides a stark contrast with the dysfunctional unit formed by Claudius, Gertrude, and Hamlet. His meddling garrulousness eventually costs him his life. Polonius´s first longer speech can be found in act 1, scene 3, when he tells Laertes to keep to certain principles. Polonius even offers to prove his theory by putting out Ophelia as bait while they hide and watch how Hamlet reacts to seeing her, but Hamlet figures out their plan. He admits that he is not a man of great prestige, and yet he has risen to be counselor to the King. Polonius is King Claudius’s advisor and Ophelia and Laertes’s father. Despite Polonius’ efforts to protect his family and others from Hamlet, he fails. Polonius is the father of Laertes and Ophelia. Polonius is loyal to the King, where he makes an arrangement to spy on Hamlet. Perhaps no other character in The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, short of the title character himself, is as widely quoted as Polonius, Lord Chamberlain of Denmark. Ed. Polonius, fictional character, councillor to King Claudius and the father of Ophelia and Laertes in William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet (written c. 1599–1601). Morris and Co. Polonius is a man bred in courts, exercised in business, stored with observation, confident in his knowledge, proud of his eloquence, all declining into dotage. Horatio. Polonius is determined to do whatever it takes to stay in the good graces of the king and queen, and invents many different ways of spying on Hamlet in an attempt to win the monarchs’ continued favor. While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. He proposes or supports most of the actions crucial to moving a drama whose theme is hesitation. Polonius’ death by Hamlet causes Claudius to fear for his own life, Ophelia to go mad and Leartes to seek revenge, which leads to the duel in the final act. Polonius is one of the major characters in Hamlet, his role in the play is of great interest to scholars. Polonius’s amusing lack of self-awareness serves as a comic foil to Hamlet’s existential struggle with self-knowledge. The happiness of Polonius’s family is reflected in his children’s reaction to his murder. Ophelia. Presumably, he counseled King Hamlet as well. Shakespeare's Characters: Polonius (Hamlet)From The Works of William Shakespeare.Vol. Polonius’s actions suggest that in Hamlet, even relationships that seem loving are ambiguous, a fact which contributes to the play’s atmosphere of doubt and uncertainty. Do you agree that Polonius' murder is the turning-point of the drama? Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Polonius, Polonius - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). He sends Reynaldo to spy on his son, and he uses his daughter as bait to trick Hamlet. In the play Hamlet, the story centered around the psychological state of the main character Hamlet who is the prince of Denmark. Polonius is a character from William Shakespeare 's "Hamlet".The character is best known for uttering the immortal words: "To thine own self be true," as well as a few other phrases still in use today such as "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" and "brevity is the soul of wit." The ghost. Through Hamlet’s and Ophelia’s various references to and descriptions of Polonius, he is linked with the wise old man figure. Act 3 Scene 2. Polonius’ Role in Hamlet January 19, 2017 ~ naomienglishblog Polonius’ deliberate role in the play is to serve as both comedic relief, a sort of palate cleanser for all of the dark drama, and as a foil to King Claudius. Hamlet’s close friend, who studied with the prince at the university in Wittenberg. The Roles of Polonius in Hamlet As a secondary character, Polonius' roles in Hamlet are ingenious in their variety and purpose. When one of the players delivers a heart-wrenching speech about Priam's death, Polonius interrupts to say (and we are not making this up), "This is too long" (2.2.523) (Admit it: you were thinking it, too.) Polonius hides behind a curtain in Gertrude’s room, to hear Hamlet’s conversation with his mother. Played by the right actor, self-absorbed, long-winded, and dull becomes completely hilarious. Evangeline Maria O'Connor. Polonius calls himself an `assistant for a state´ [II.ii.168]. Who dies accidentally drinking poison? The Lord Chamberlain of Claudius’s court, a pompous, conniving old man. In the play Hamlet by Shakespeare, Polonius is the chief counsellor of King Claudius. Where Hamlet is contemplative and frozen by emotions, Laertes is reactive and quick to action. In this sense Polonius offers an alternative and far less extreme perspective on the impossibility of perfectly knowing oneself. 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