In the play Hamlet by Shakespeare, Polonius is the chief counsellor of King Claudius. Polonius, jealous and envious of Hamlet, cast beyond himself in his opinion (like a branch over a stream). Who does Hamlet beg to remain alive and clear Hamlet's name?, Polonius - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). 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. Since Ophelia has broken up with Hamlet, Polonius thinks that Hamlet is now crazy. He believes that Hamlet's love for Ophelia is what has Hamlet "mad." Despite Polonius’ efforts to protect his family and others from Hamlet, he fails. Polonius, fictional character, councillor to King Claudius and the father of Ophelia and Laertes in William Shakespeare ’s tragedy Hamlet (written c. 1599–1601). Ophelia. Polonius is a proud and concerned father. For instance, in Act Two he cleverly announces that “brevity is the soul of wit” (II.ii. People present in the scene: Hamlet – the Prince of Denmark and connoisseur of theater; Actors of the traveling theater; Horatio. Updates? Who asks Hamlet to remember him? 19. Polonius is loyal to the King, where he makes an arrangement to spy on Hamlet. Although referred by Hamlet as “ tedious old fool ”, Polonius has a very sincere aspect too. Punching down is Hamlet’s usual style with social inferiors: Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and Osric all experience similar treatment. Evangeline Maria O'Connor. Polonius is hilarious. Polonius is the main adviser to the king. The figure of Polonius in “ Hamlet ” is more interesting the more attention we pay to his crucial role in this long and involved tragedy. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Basically, this is SNL-type humor: … 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. His means of actions, however, are totally corrupt As a comic character, he consistently shows himself less wise than he thinks. Whereas Polonius’s lack of self-awareness is ultimately harmless, Hamlet’s lack of self-certainty drives him to his first act of violence, which completely and tragically misfires. Polonius seems to love his children; he seems to have the welfare of the kingdom in mind. The happiness of Polonius’s family is reflected in his children’s reaction to his murder. Polonius is a verbose, faltering old man whose servile devotion to Claudius renders him slimy, untrustworthy, and pathetic in the eyes of Hamlet. He is the one who causes an irreversible chain of events that lead to an unhappy ending. Polonius is the father of Ophelia and Laertes. The ghost. Corrections? Who dies by drowning? In the same scene, Polonius advises his daughter Ophelia to avoid Hamlet because he’s worried about her. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. The Roles of Polonius in Hamlet As a secondary character, Polonius' roles in Hamlet are ingenious in their variety and purpose. Omissions? Who dies accidentally drinking poison? Polonius’s death occurs as a result of him being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Aylmer was an actor and author who had a long career on stage and screen. Gertrude. He is especially known for his maxim-filled speech (“Neither a borrower nor a lender be”). Hamlet. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. ), but he does so in the middle of a tediously long speech. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Polonius takes his last attempt to spy on Hamlet. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Polonius is suspicious of Hamlet, and he is convinced that Hamlet's supposed insanity stems from the young prince's love for his daughter, Ophelia. At the same time, Polonius reveals himself to be a far from perfect father. Hamlet’s close friend, who studied with the prince at the university in Wittenberg. Horatio is loyal and helpful to Hamlet throughout the play. Polonius, meanwhile, is convinced that Hamlet’s madness is love sickness, because he can no longer see Ophelia. Presumably, he counseled King Hamlet as well. Use up and down arrows to review and enter to select. Bradley argues Hamlet's failure there "is the cause of all the disasters that follow. He is concerned with appearances, especially the reputations of his children. Hamlet went to his mother’s closet, to discuss her marriage to Claudius, and how Hamlet believed her to … He offers to set up one more meeting – a private rendezvous between the queen and Hamlet. Or do you agree with A. C. Bradley that the true turning-point is Hamlet's refusal to kill Claudius while he is praying (3.3)? Polonius may be elderly and demented, but he must have been at least politically adept. 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. Help! When he hears of his father’s death, Laertes is ready to raise a rebellion against Claudius, but his sister’s madness allows Claudius to convince him Hamlet is at fault. Polonius also provides Hamlet with its main source of comic relief. To further prove Hamlet’s madness, he explains his findings to the king and queen. Through Hamlet’s and Ophelia’s various references to and descriptions of Polonius, he is linked with the wise old man figure. 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. Do you agree that Polonius' murder is the turning-point of the drama? Polonius calls himself an `assistant for a state´ [II.ii.168]. The happiness of Polonius’s family is reflected in his children’s reaction to his murder. 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). Shakespeare's Characters: Polonius (Hamlet)From The Works of William Shakespeare.Vol. An actor portraying Polonius should address the question of whether he is a devoted father or a ruthless politician. Where Hamlet is contemplative and frozen by emotions, Laertes is reactive and quick to action. 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. Hamlet does so knowing Polonius can not answer back. Polonius echoes for help and is heard by Hamlet, who then mistakes the voice for Claudius. Polonius is also used to develop dramatic tension and moments of climax, as he was the one who engineers the powerfully dramatic meeting between Hamlet and Ophelia and whose plan to spy on Hamlet in conversation with the Queen ultimately sparked a chain of subsequent events that led to his own death and the tragic conclusion of the play. Polonius. Played by the right actor, self-absorbed, long-winded, and dull becomes completely hilarious. Polonius cares deeply for his children, which is why he’s so overprotective. The politic Polonius, convinced that Hamlet is truly mad, nonetheless recognizes in his speech some "method"—that is, a kind of artfulness and order. Act 3 Scene 2. He is especially known for his maxim-filled speech (“Neither a borrower nor a lender be”). Who witnesses Polonius' death? Gertrude. He is the father of two important characters of the play, Laertes and Ophelia. 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. He proposes or supports most of the actions crucial to moving a drama whose theme is hesitation. Upon hearing the coming of Hamlet, Polonium hides behind a curtain. After highly emotional discussion between the queen Gertrude and her son Hamlet, Polonium answers the queen’s cry in Act 3, Scene S by hollering, Nathan, ho! 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. Polonius is brilliant as a courtier. 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. 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. He also cuts in at their use of the words "mobledqueen" to say "Oh, that's good; 'mobled queen' is good." When Polonius died (broke), Ophelia, who had once reached for the coronet of a princess, lacking discretion, climbed out on the envious sliver of Polonius' commands and … Who dies behind a tapestry? The fact that Polonius gets himself so wrong contributes to one of Hamlet’s central themes: the challenge of self-certainty. While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. His meddling garrulousness eventually costs him his life. Polonius is one of the major characters in Hamlet, his role in the play is of great interest to scholars. Read an in-depth analysis of Polonius. Polonius’s amusing lack of self-awareness serves as a comic foil to Hamlet’s existential struggle with self-knowledge. Parts of Hamlet present Polonius as a fool, whose love of his own voice leads to his constant babbling. Laertes passionately pursues revenge, and Ophelia feels so struck with grief that she goes mad. One event that is unavoidable is the death tot Polonium himself. In Hamlet Polonius’ use of clever language and situational humor help relive the tension in … Polonius hides behind a curtain in Gertrude’s room, to hear Hamlet’s conversation with his mother. 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 is the father of Laertes and Ophelia. The Lord Chamberlain of Claudius’s court, a pompous, conniving old man. Polonius is King Claudius’s advisor and Ophelia and Laertes’s father. Horatio. In the play, Polonius is the first character to die as his plan backfires to cause his death. Check out the scene where Hamlet's directing the players (actors). J.D. This difference between Polonius and Hamlet results in a powerful example of irony in Act Three, when Hamlet mistakenly kills Polonius, thinking it’s Claudius. He sends Reynaldo to spy on his son, and he uses his daughter as bait to trick Hamlet. Other character 's strength are not as well represented in the play. Laertes is Polonius’s son and Ophelia’s brother, as well as a clear foil to Hamlet. (Annoying!) Polonius´s first longer speech can be found in act 1, scene 3, when he tells Laertes to keep to certain principles. Polonius will be listening to that conversation. Polonius, fictional character, councillor to King Claudius and the father of Ophelia and Laertes in William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet (written c. 1599–1601). 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. In this sense Polonius offers an alternative and far less extreme perspective on the impossibility of perfectly knowing oneself. 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. Ed. 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. In the play Hamlet, the story centered around the psychological state of the main character Hamlet who is the prince of Denmark. 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. In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius is the chief counselor to Claudius, as well as the father of Laertes and Ophelia. Hamlet frightens Gertrude, causing her to cry for help. Nevertheless, the exception to this is one of the most important female characters: Polonius ' daughter Ophelia. Britannica now has a site just for parents! Laertes passionately pursues revenge, and Ophelia feels so struck with grief that she goes mad. In his first line he tells us he hesitates to let his son Laertes go abroad, and he draws out his last meeting with Laertes because he’s reluctant to see him go. Polonius is still sure that Hamlet is fading with love. He admits that he is not a man of great prestige, and yet he has risen to be counselor to the King. 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."