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... [continues]
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"Polonius Is Folish." StudyMode.com. 10, 1999. Accessed 10, 1999. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Polonius-Folish-7068.html.