In what ways does the presentation of Polonius contribute to the play Hamlet? Essay

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Hamlet By William Shakespeare Question: In what ways does the presentation of Polonius contribute to the play Hamlet? Answer: Polonius, counsellor to the King, father of Ophelia and Laertes (and although there is no evidence, it is possible that he held a position at court under Hamlets father, the old King), seems to have a close and developed relationship with the Royal family and knows a lot about the family history and background in detail.

With the audience knowing this, Shakespeare can use Polonius as a weapon against Claudius in order to protect himself or to blackmail the King. He is a man who is trusted by Claudius, the King of Denmark who tells Laertes, Polonius son, that his father is incalculably important to Denmark, The head is not more native to the heart, The hand is more instrumental to the mouth, Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father. (Act 1 Scene 2- Lines 47-49) Here, the audience would most probably be double-minded and slightly confused.

This is because; this quote could have a double meaning. It could be that Claudius wants to get rid of Polonius but finds difflculty in doing so as he is a faithful servant towards himself, the King. Polonius could be an instrumental devise for Claudius for those critical times. We soon learn that Polonius is an over-protective father who only wants to protect his children from society and has a strong authority over his son and daughter. This is learnt when Claudius calls to Laertes:

Have you your fathers leave? What says Polonius? (Act 1 Scene 2- Line 57) More evidence of Polonius fatherhood is reflected in Act 1 Scene 3, when Laertes is talking to Ophelia before he is about to leave for France. Polonius enters the scene giving lecture-like advice to Laertes about factors to engage in and factors not to engage in. Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar. (Act 1 Scene 3-Line 61) He does not trust his son, which is why Polonius calls on Reynaldo to make inquire of his behaviour.

Not only this, but he gives long-winded advise to Ophelia without considering her feelings by playing with his words, and accusing Ophelia of not being able to make her own sensible decisions. You speak like a green girl (Act 1 Scene 3-Line 101) Polonius playing with words does not stop here; he uses plays on words to make himself seem intelligent, while the king and queen are not impressed at all. When he realizes that his artificial intelligence is not working, he comes up with his lovesick plan (to spy on Hamlet and use Ophelia).

Polonius does not only educate his children for their own benefits but also to his advantage. He uses them, Ophelia in particular, to promote his career leading to Claudius to be proud when it is revealed that Ophelia is carrying out her fathers dirty work for him without knowing, which reveals the degree of Polonius craftiness. Polonius job is his priority (this is reflected when he uses Ophelia to maintain his head high in front of the King) and it is shown in the play that he is capable of going to extreme measures just in order to satisfy all and to keep his head high.

I think he wants all too much to impress the king and queen, which explain his silly talking in circles. For example, when he says, Give first admittance to thambassadors; My news shall be the fruit to that great feast. (Act 2 Scene 2-Lines 51-52) Shakespeare uses a character like Polonius in this play to complement the whole play. Polonius ironical jokes make the audience laugh and balances out the play against the tense and important scenes in the play, HAMLET Do you see yonder cloud thats almost in shape of a camel?

POLONIUS By thmass, and tis like a camel indeed. HAMLET Methinks it is like a weasel. POLONIUS It is backed like a weasel. HAMLET Or like a whale? POLONIUS Very like a whale. (Act 3 Scene 2-Lines 339-344) In act 3 scene 2, when Polonius is told to fetch Hamlet, Hamlet plays with his words towards Polonius and makes him say anything that he, Hamlet chooses. Polonius is made to say that he sees imaginary shapes, which Hamlet suggests, are in the clouds.

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