Characters in Hamlet and Man Thy Ear

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In Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet, there are many complex characters. Polonius, in his role as advisor to the king, adds much of the complexity and irony in the play. His character is a study in contradictions. An old, long winded, father of two, Polonius injects humor into the play, along with some confusion due to his uncanny wordiness. Throughout the play he takes it upon himself to find the center of Prince Hamlet's "insanity"; he hypothesizes that the prince suffers from the "unrequited love" of his daughter, Ophelia. Polonius sees himself as an expert at finding out the truth by using indirect ways. Compared to Hamlet, who is trying to find out the truth about his father's death in the same way, Polonius deserves the title of "tedious old fool." Many literature buffs believe that the character of Polonius is nothing but a rambler, spouting off insights that sound wise on the surface but are shallow upon further exploration. In truth, Polonius possesses great depth and insight into himself and the minds of the other characters. How else can one explain, the wisdom which he gives to his son? Shakespeare does this to prove that Polonius is not just a simple advisor with a tendency for self-centeredness, but an oddly complex, well-rounded character. "Do as I say not as I do," this phrase sums up the character of Polonius. His faults throughout the story lay in not following his own sound advice, and that is why Polonius's death adds to the tragedy. He dies because he does not listen to himself. "Give thy thoughts no tongue,

Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledged comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve...
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