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 advice, to keep his thoughts to himself and to never lend or borrow money. While this advice is simple, when looked at in full context his advice to his son is all about self-advancement. Polonius will go to all extremes to protect his reputation. Grebanier states on the foolishness of Polonius’ speech: “Such guidance will do for those who wish to make the world thei…
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…speare created Polonius as a very unique and complex character. Scholars argue and will continue to argue over the reasons for Polonius’ foolishness. Throughout the play Polonius tends to act foolish thinking that he knows the reason for Hamlet’s madness, while the audience knows that he is wrong.
Shakespeare created Polonius as a controversial character and only he will ever know why
Polonius was created so foolish.
Works Cited Grebanier, Bernard. The Heart of Hamlet. New York: Thomas Y. Cromwell
Co, 1960. Hartwig, Joan. “Parodic Polonius”. Texas Studies in Literature and Language: vol. 13, 1971. Kirschbaum, Leo. Character and Characterization in Shakespeare. Detroit:
Wayne State UP, 1962. Oakes, Elizabeth. “Polonius, the Man behind the Arras: A Jungian
Study.” New Essays on Hamlet. New York: AMS Press, 1994. Orkin, Martin. “Hamlet and the Security of the South African State.” Critical Essays on Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
New York: G.K. Hall and Co, 1995. Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet,
Prince of Denmark. New York: Washington Square Press published by Pocket Books,
1992. States, Bert O. Hamlet and the Concept of Character. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP,
Essay on the Setting in Shakespeare’s The Tempest
Importance of Setting in The Tempest
Shakespeare’s enchanted island in The Tempest is a restorative pastoral setting, a place where ‘no man was his own’ and a place that offers endless possibilities to the people that arrive on it’s shores. Although the actual location of the island is not known, the worlds of Seneca aptly describe it’s significance to the play – it represents the ‘bounds of things, the remotest shores of the world’. On the boundary of reality, the island partakes of both the natural and supernatural both the imaginative and the real. It allows the exploration of both man’s potential and his limitations, his capacity for reform through art and his affinity for political and social realities. It is constructing this opposition between art and reality and in giving Shakespeare’s romance the freedom to explore mankind free from the concerns of everyday life that the setting of The Tempest is crucial to it’s overall dramatic design.
The only scene in the play that does not take place on the island is the opening tempest scene. It is in itself an important use of setting. It hints at the fact that the characters social assumptions will capitulate when exposed to adversity – we have the boatswain apparently inappropriately comment none aboard the ship that ‘I love more than myself’. In fact, quite the reverse is true. In the court scene we are presented with the characters Antonio and Sebastian who are interested in political gain despite the predicament in which they find themselves. In this respect the setting functions to present the idea that our social conditioning transcends time and place. The inference is that if political clambering can take place on an enchanted island in the middle of now…
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…gic and music.
The contrast between the representative characters and the magic art of the island does not resolve itself, rather, it leaves the audience in what Russ McDonald called a “marginal condition between expectation and understanding, affirmation and skepticism, comedy and tragedy”. The setting functions to present the worlds of both art and reality in order to affirm the transcendent human desire for power and order, as well as affirm the world of art as a means of dealing with reality.
Bibliography/ Works Cited
Meller, A., Moon, G.T. Literary Shakespeare (1993) Sydney: Canon Publications
Lecture on “The Tempest” (1988) C. Holmes
Shakespeare, W. The Tempest. Ed. Sutherland, J.R. (1990)
Mikhail M. Morozor, (1989)“The Individualization of Shakespeare’s Characters through Imagery”, Shakespeare Survey.