Acts I and II: Hamlet, Ophelia, Laertes, Polonius

In a posting that is at least two hundred words and contains two proofs from the text, discuss your impression (thus far) of ONE of the following characters: Hamlet, Laertes, Ophelia, or Polonius.  Points that you might consider in your response can include some of the following:  Do you think Hamlet is justified in his anger/resentment over his mother’s “o’er hasty marriage” and his hatred of Claudius?  What do you make of Laertes’ advice to his sister?  What do you make of Ophelia’s responses to either/both her brother and her father?  Do you think Laertes is justified in watching his son in France and/or if you think his advice to Laertes is valid?

Your posting should be about two hundred words and contain two proofs from the play, focusing on Act 1.  (Although you can refer to Act II with respect to Ophelia and Laertes.)  Note that a response of two hundred words means that your response needs to be succinct!  (You will be receiving up to 15 marks on this posting:  10 for detail, 5 for spelling, grammar, and thoughtfulness.)  Remember that your deadline (one that is a stringent one) is Wednesday at midnight.

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~ by Ms. Cox on October 21, 2009.

89 Responses to “Acts I and II: Hamlet, Ophelia, Laertes, Polonius”

  1. Polonius is a very interesting character that can evoke various emotions and reactions from the readers. Even though Polonius is interesting, I am not impressed with his persona in the play. First portrayed as a caring father, he shows his utmost concern towards his son, Laertes and gives him useful advice for travelling alone in a different country. He ends up giving advice such as, “ See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue” (1.3.59) and “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” (1.3.75). He talks about how he should not express everything he thinks about to people because it can cause harm and gives him useful advice about money, so that he does not land in financial predicaments. Polonius also displays a great amount of integrity through his advice and seems to try to pass that to his children. But, the moment Polonius starts discussing Ophelia’s relationship with Hamlet, a different side to Polonius is viewed. He clearly criticises Ophelia for her relationship and says she “speaks like a green girl” (1.3.101), someone who does not withhold much honour. This made me doubt the character of Polonius because he did not stop making these accusations until Ophelia said that she would stop seeing Hamlet. The scene that made me the most unimpressed towards Polonius’ persona is the fact that he asks Reynaldo, a servant, to spy on Laertes in France. This made me lose complete respect because not only does he ask him to spy in order to find out the truth about Laertes but Polonius also asks Reynaldo to “put on him…forgeries” (2.1.19-20), or make up stuff about him so that he may be recognized but at the expense of being called a wayward child. This throws out everything that Polonius previously advised to Laertes and displays Polonius lack of integrity and honesty.

    • Polonius
      By Caitlin Butt

      Polonius is the father of Laertes and Ophelia. He has his own opinions on the way people should live their lives and is unaware of his son’s life, unlike that of his daughter Ophelia’s whom he knows much about. Two characteristics that would describe Polonius are opinionated or protective, depending on the situation, and untrusting.
      Polonius in opinionated in his ways because before his son leaves for school he tells him of things to do and not to do while away. Polonius give Laertes a verbal list of over ten things to accomplish in Act 1 scene iii. He seems opinionated when he tells his son not to get into fights, but if he were to get in a fight, fight to win and don’t think too much of yourself, but don’t cheap yourself out. These two bits of advice make him seem very rigid.
      Polonius’ curiosity leads him to be an untrusting character as well. An example of this would be in Act 2 scene i. where Polonius hires Reynaldo to spy on Laertes. Polonius is also disrespecting his son because he tells Reynaldo to spread secrets about Laertes if he can’t get any information by trying to hang out with Laertes’ friends. He advises Reynaldo to make up rumour about Laertes. Polonius tells Reynaldo that he can say he saw Laertes, “ drinking, fencing, swearing, quarreling, / Drabbing: you may go so far” ( II.i.25-26). If Laertes heard this information of his father’s inquiry into his life he would most likely become very annoyed.
      Polonius is trying to help his family, but at the same time he is hurting them, especially Laertes, in the process.

      • Caitlin you’re right. I also thought that Polonius was untrusting as well. I don’t believe that he trust either of his kids. He does have his own opinions as well because when he says that all young people seem to do is party, he’s assuming that it’s the general case with all young people. He’s judging a book by it’s cover and that’s not right. He shouldn’t make assumptions about everyone. I liked all the adjectives that you used to descibe Polonius. I thought that they were all accurate. I thought that you used enough evidence from the text to describe Polonius. Overall I thought that your piece was very interesting and the proofs from the text were very accurate. Well done:)

      • It makes sense to say that Polonius is untrusting. It’s reflected in the advice he gives Laertes. He tells him to keep his friends close, but not to “dull thy palm with entertainment/ Of each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade.” (1.3.64-65) meaning, don’t trust just anyone. He only trusts people he has known and tested, and advises his son to do the same. On top of that, he doesn’t even trust his own son and sends a spy after him. So I agree that Polonius is not a trusting person.

      • Caitlin I agree with your points stating that Polonius is a very opinionated and protective person. Your reference to Polonius giving his son, Laertes advice, shows how Polonius pushes too much information onto Laertes and voices his opinion too strongly towards his son. I also liked how you touched upon the fact that Polonius hired Reynaldo to spy on Laertes because Polonius feels the need to know what his son is up to. You went further on to describe how Polonius tells Reynaldo to do anything in order to get information from Laertes’ friends, which clearly demonstrates how over protective Polonius truly is. Overall I thought that your points were very clearly thought out, and I agree with them fully.

    • The statement “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”(1.4.90) is a very honest comment from Marcellus. The reigning King is a usurping, incestuous, and adulterate beast (1.5.43). He passively gloats his sovereignty to the throne’s rightful heir, Hamlet, who’s sanity slowly ebbs away (1.2.108-112). Alongside the King’s own soul, his closest followers’ souls are also decaying, albeit less severely.

      The character at the Kings heels, longing for royal affection, is Polonius. Men like Polonius may be the source of the rotting smell’s origin, but these are the kind of men who finish first.

      The impression I have of Polonius is a man with healthy socio-political ambitions, and a father who knows the right way to raise children. A good example of his patriarchal skills is his relationship with his son, Laertes. As a parting gift Polonius gives his son the most precious gift a father can give: advice (1.3.59-80). Another sign of Polonius’s adeptness at fatherhood is the second gift he gives Laertes: a vigilant spy (2.1.3-4). Polonius cares enough about his son to send a spy after Laertes so he can stay well informed of his son’s wellbeing.

      Although many have a negative impression of Polonius’s treatment of his children, I believe he is acting within his boundaries as a father. Readers may also look down upon his ambitions and call him dishonourable, to those readers all I can say is that nice guys finish last. Who wants to be last?

      • Soma, even though i do agree with you regarding many parts of your post, including the honesty of Marcellus’ comment “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” I do have several things that I disagree with in this post as well. The first is just a small statement you made about Polonius. You referred to him as the type of man who would finish first, but did he not die well before many of the other characters in the play? Including his murderer Hamlet and his questionable friend Claudius. As I see it, Fortinbras finished first, and Polonius was well back in the pack so to speak. My second, and much larger issue is regarding Polonius’ disputed father figure. It is true that on the surface Polonius seems like he is sincerely offering his best and most profound advice to his children (Ophelia and Laertes) for their best interests. But upon further examination, I have noticed that many of Polonius’ comment’s (specifically to Laertes before he departs for France) are not so sincere after all. In fact, many of these comments actually are quite contradictory and if anything portrayed a witty sarcasm to them. I believe that this seemingly precious gift Polonius has allegedly given Laertes is actually a witty sly sequence of sarcastic contradictory comments that he has delivered due to some sort of strain on their relationship. An example of one of these comments would be when Polonius states ” Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, But not expressed in fancy—rich, not gaudy” (1.3.70-72). This is just one of many contradictory comments Polonius makes to Laertes which makes me wonder if he was being sincere at all.

  2. Hamlet’s anger towards his mother’s marriage is quite great. He is angry with not only his mother, but his new father and uncle, Claudius. His anger is one of the driving forces that causes him to commit murder later in the play, but is it justified?
    Once Hamlet returns from university to attend his father’s funeral, he finds that his mother is now wedded to his uncle and new step-father, Claudius. According to Hamlet, his mother remarried “ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears had left the flushing in her galled eyes” (I.ii.153-154). In his opinion, the “most wicked speed” (I.ii.155) of the event disgraced his father’s name and his family. Hamlet is angry because his mother not only remarried, but that she did it so quickly. The frustration comes from the disgrace she has now given to the family and that caused by the idea that she so quickly overcame the death of King Hamlet.
    The irritation of Hamlet is not only justifiable, but is also part of the reasoning behind his crime of murder later on in the play. He wants to avenge his father’s name which was disgraced through his mother’s hasty marriage to the very man that killed him. Although his anger causes destruction later on in the play, it has just reasoning behind it.

  3. Hamlet is very motivating character. He is the Prince of Denmark, nephew of the current King of Denmark, Claudius and son of the previous King, Old Hamlet. In the beginning of the play, Hamlet seems gloomy and displays anger towards his mother and hatred towards his uncle because of their hasty marriage when King Hamlet only died two months ago. Hamlet seems justifies in his anger at his mother and hatred towards his uncle since outside the castle, it is murky with the aura of dread and anxiety, and inside the castle his mother and uncle and the courtiers desperately pretend that nothing is out of the ordinary. This makes Hamlet thinks that how is it possible for Claudius to poise sorrow of brother’s death with happiness of marring his wife. He sees Claudius giving speech, which is full of confidence and no grief appears. Claudius says, “Though yet of Hamlet our late brother’s death /The memory be green” (1. 2.1-2). Then Claudius in his speech says, “Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen” (1. 2.8). Then later in his speech, Claudius words are “With one auspicious and a dropping eye” (1. 2.11). In these quotations, Claudius is sad and then he is happy and then his words show that he is carrying from one eye and laughing from other. This illustrates to us and also makes Hamlet think that Claudius is a hypocrite person. Later on in this act Claudius asks Hamlet, “How is that clouds still hang on you”(1.2.66). In this quotation Claudius is showing no worries about his brother’s death by being sarcastic and asking Prince Hamlet that why is all gloomy. This shows that Claudius does not care about his brother’s death because he is not sad at all. This increases the anger and doubts in Hamlet’s mind for Claudius. And on other side he is sad that why his mother married such a person and so quickly after father’s death. Thus, Hamlet has reason to have hatred for his uncle and anger towards his mother.

  4. Polonius is a lying, nosey, and over-protective father with good intentions. He is a loving father who cares about his children but goes about things the wrong way. Polonius tells his daughter, Ophelia, to break up with her boyfriend, Hamlet because he is no good for her. His telling Ophelia to break up with Hamlet is out of love and concern for his daughter but shows how over-protective he can be. When his son, Laertes, is leaving for France, Polonius gives him many pieces of advice to help him through his journey and to protect him from getting into trouble. Some pieces of advice given to Laertes are: do not say everything that you are thinking, do not socialize too much with ordinary people, and do not cheapen friendship by being friends with every one you meet. The advice Polonius gave Laertes is good and shows that he is just looking out for his son. When Polonius gives Reyaldo a letter and money to give to Laertes and also tells him to spy on his son to see what he is up to. Polonius shows how nosey he is when he tells Reynaldo, “you shall do marvellous wisely, good Reynaldo, before you visit him, to make inquiry of his behaviour” (II.i.3-5). He also tells Reynaldo, “and there put on him what forgeries you please” (II.i.17-18) which shows he lies. He tells Reynaldo to accuse Laertes of any imaginary faults he wants, which is immoral, but he does it to make sure his son is safe. Polonius tries to be a good father by watching out for his children, but does it in a dishonest and over-protective way.

    • i agree totally with Ashton. Polonius is just a father who wants to protect his children, and does whatever it takes to do so. He only wants the best for his children even though he does it in a different sneeky way he is just looking out for them. I do also think that part of his actions towards his children are for himself, to keep his status but in my opinion his true intentions are for him children and what is best for them.

  5. Laertes, the brother of Ophelia and son to Polonius, portrays himself as the protective guard of his sister’s heart. He warns his sister before his departure to France about the dangers of her relationship with Hamlet. While he seems to be trying to protect her and shield her from possible distress if the relationship fails, Ophelia’s response hints that he does not follow his own advice, as she says : “Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads and recks not his own rede”(1.3.50-51). Although some may find his advice to be well meant and concerned, I feel it is hard for Ophelia to follow, as she knows he does not practice what he preaches. If Laertes had truly followed the advice he gives Ophelia, to not let emotions overpower judgment, then he would not have been warned by his father to stay safe before he leaves for France. Laertes seems to be somewhat of a hypocrite and his character does not impose honesty. His advice to his sister appears to be coming from a very personal level, as if he is simply retelling his past mistakes. There are plenty hints towards some uncontrolled and reckless behaviour, which is supported later to be that of himself, as the advice from his father is, “Give thy thoughts no tongue, Nor any unproprtion’d thought his act” (1.3. 60-61). This indicates that Laertes may act without thinking, is impulsive, and quick to make up his mind. It also hints that he may sometimes ignore the consequences of his actions, and then tries to put himself on a higher level than his sister, acting wise and experienced. His character’s true intentions are ones that will be revealed as the play progresses, and it seems too early to judge him, because one cannot judge a man on words alone.

    • I am in agreement with your post, and I think we are on the same page in regards to Laertes. Near the end of your post you tell us:

      “His character’s true intentions are ones that will be revealed as the play progresses”

      What do you think his true intentions are? Do you think he will show his evil side later on in the play? Do you think she will show is good side later on in the play?

      I feel that Shakespeare is showing us a more contemptible Laertes at the moment. My prediction is that later on we might see some more honour in his actions. It makes for a good play when the sleazy slacker unexpectedly becomes a hero. Any thoughts on the matter?

      • It is still early on in the play, yet I think some predictions can be made about Laertes, based on his actions in the previous scenes. His protective nature indicates for me that he will prove himself to be loyal to his family throughout the course of the play. To me, it is evident that he values a close relationship with his family, or else he would not have given his sister’s relationship such great thought. He may seem controlling and have too much say to Ophelia, but I think his intentions are mostly good, trying to protect his family and avoid any unnecessary drama. As for Ophelia, I think she already has shown an honest personality trait when she obeys her father’s wishes. I hope she continues to be the strong young woman she presented herself to be. I also agree with your prediction that in a good play, “the sleazy slacker unexpectedly becomes a hero”.

  6. In light of the recent passing of his father, I feel Hamlet’s character is completely justified in his feelings of anger and resentment towards his mother. I do understand that Gertrude needed to marry in order to maintain her lavish lifestyle, rather than becoming a scullery maid, but due to the haste in which she did so, Hamlet’s reaction makes more than enough sense. Hamlet is quoted as saying, “so loving to my mother that he might not beteem the winds of heaven visit her face too roughly” (1.2.24-26). This goes to show just how much Hamlet Senior had loved his wife, and yet within two months she had married someone else. Any child might view this as a betrayal to their father. He also says that Gertrude was quick “to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets” (1.2.40-41) which means that the marriage was not merely so she could retain her position as queen, but she is enjoying the marriage and all the perks that come with it. He uses the quote “the funeral baked meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables” (1.2.63-64) to illustrate the speed which with his mother moved on from mourning over Hamlet senior to marrying his brother. Of course we know this to be an exaggeration, as he specified that it had been about two months since his father died, but it offers some lovely imagery and shows us his anger towards her, as well as her rush to wed once more. Since Gertrude married in such a timely fashion, and did not make a show of taking her time to mourn for her late husband, I feel that Hamlet’s feelings of anger and resentment are quite justified.

  7. Hamlet seems like a sensible and logical person. H e understands that everyone must, at one point, die; including his father. But, I feel that if a parent of mine had died, and the other parent got married not even within a month of the death, I would think that there is something abnormal about the whole situation. It is natural for someone to grieve for more than a month if they truly liked one another, but for one to get married in such a short period of time after the loved ones death, is unusual and could suggest foul play. This leads Hamlet to have a bit of dislike towards his mother and a lot of hostility towards his uncle, Claudius. These following quotes show the same thing. Hamlet is angry at his mother for not spending enough time grieving for his father and getting married to Claudius with such haste. “Why, she would hang on him, as if increases in appetite had frown by what it fed on, and yet, within a month.” (1.2.143-145) This is showing the anger he has for his mother due to her passing through the grieving period within such a short period of time, when normally there is a long period where the widow is depressed if they truly liked their spouse. Also showing the same characteristic is the quote “She married:– O most wicked speed, to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets!” (1.2.156-157). Another characteristic of Hamlet is that he has the ability to see through the lies of people. An example is when he is speaking to Horatio about the circumstances of his return from Wittenburg. “I know you are no truant” (1.2.172).
    Also with these reasons I believe Hamlet is a sensible and logical person, and that his hatred for Claudius is justified.

    • Your post was very well done and it was a pleasure to read. Nevertheless there a few counterarguments I have developed and I would love to hear your thoughts on them.

      In response to your conclusion that Hamlet’s antagonism towards his mother and Claudius is justified:

      1. It has been common since biblical times (most likely even earlier) for a brother to marry his brothers widow. A religious man of Hamlets calibre should respect this.

      2. Hamlet has no real right to the throne. At the time Denmark was a constitutional monarchy with an elected king (Hamlet would have had a vote).

      • Yes, but i still think it is justified because Claudius did kill his father. I’d be pissed off too.

      • Your arguments hold some validity but, however, are not applicable to this situation. As stated in Genesis, “Then Judah said to Onan, Go in to your brother’s wife and do what it is right for a husband’s brother to do; make her your wife and get offspring for your brother” (Genesis 38:8), you can see the brother is to make offspring for the deceased brother if there was none there in the first place. I am no expert on Hamlet, but I am sure that there was at least one descendant from Old Hamlet and Gertrude before his death. In other translations of this, it is stated that they are only to perform duties of a brother-in-law – which has no mention of marriage between the two – but they are only to help with the upbringing of the deceased brothers descendants. If you read these verses from Genesis, you will see the circumstances that this was allowed and mentioned, which I have outlined above.

        http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/gen/38.html

        So Hamlet, a religious man of a high caliber, would understand and respect this if it was under the right circumstances. But, from what I can see (and possibly Hamlet too), none of the outlined circumstances are present that would result in a legitimate marriage between his uncle and mother.

        With respect to your second poing, I’d like to ask where you have gotten the information regarding the time period Hamlet was based in, and where you got the details about Denmark being a Constitutional monarchy? Shakespeare was believed to have been born sometime in 1564 and have died 52 years later, making that about 1616. According to this website below, Denmark only became a constitutional monarchy in 1849.

        http://internationalbusiness.wikia.com/wiki/Denmark's_Constitutional_Monarchy

      • Hamlet’s only proof that Claudius killed old Hamlet is that a Ghost told him.

        1. Hamlet himself still does not believe that the Ghost was his father. Even at the end of scene 2 he voices his suspicions that the Ghost was the devil.

        2. If your taking the the word of a Ghost as proof, you are probably insane.

        So if Hamlet has no proof Claudius killed his father, then on what grounds is he basing his anger? Claudius legally ascended to the throne as far as we know.

      • Alright, I may be insane. But Hamlet does have just cause to be angry at his mother. Hamlet Sr. Loved her very much and cared for her deeply and yet when he died, she barely mourned him. She went off and married his brother within the same season. Hamlet’s great remark to this is, “Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the funeral baked meats did coldy furnish forth the marriage tables” (1.2.179-180). Hamlet Sr. does feel betrayed, he says this to his son. Hamlet does have a right be angry with his mother.

      • I agree with Pat. Yes, its true that it is common for a widow to marry the brother of her husband, but I found that it was unjustified of the queen to marry off so quickly. She claimed that she loved her husband, but she did not wait more than a month to remarry. THIS is what bothered Hamlet so greatly, as he said so himself in act two:
        “Must I remember? why, she would hang on him,
        As if increase of appetite had grown
        By what it fed on: and yet, within a month—
        Let me not think on’t” (1.2.143-146)
        It wasn’t so much the fact that she remarried, or that she remarried to his uncle, it was that both were done so eagerly and quickly.

      • Hamlet is mad at Claudius because he is nothing as a king compared to his father. He is giving everyone a bad name by performing certain ceremonies (such as drinking too much). He is also mad at Claudius because he is forcing him to stay in the country (along with his mother) and not allowing him to go back to university.

  8. My impression of Hamlet thus far is that he is overwhelmed by the situation that he’s facing and cannot handle it properly. He is extremely emotional, full of rage and has trouble seeing things rationally. Hamlet seems inexperienced and is dealing with things way over his head. He seems very upset with his mother because he came home from University to find her married to his uncle. He says, “By what it fed on, and yet, within a month—Let me not think on ’t. Frailty, thy name is woman! — A little month, or ere those shoes were old With which she followed my poor father’s body, Like Niobe, all tears. Why she, even she—O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer! —Married with my uncle” (1.2.185). I think Hamlet needs to find an anger management course nearby so he can become less bitter. But his bitterness comes from a good place. He is a loyal son and even though he has full intention of avenging his father’s death, he is indecisive and that’s why he keeps waiting to kill his uncle, Claudius. Hamlet is more of a thinker than a doer. His loyalty is evident when he says, “So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word. It is “Adieu, adieu. Remember me.” I have sworn ’t (1.5.110-115). It may take some time for him to come to terms with his father’s murder, but Hamlet is a determined character.

    • I definatelty agree that Hamlet is overwhelmed by his current situation, and his emotions are completely justified. However, if Hamlet truly was loyal to his father then he would realize that following the advice of a ghost who may or may not be real (remember his out of control anger and emotions?) is not exactly rational. If Hamlet wants to avenge his fathers death, he should step up to the plate and take control of Denmark or at least face his mother and uncle with his true feelings. Hamlet’s inner battle is the only thing holding him back.

  9. Hamlet is young, pissed off, and thoroughly dislikes most of his family, so basically a teenager in the nineties. Aside from listening to his grunge records, Hamlet tends to be very depressing, sarcastic, and dwell on very negative aspect of his life. His fathers’ murder brings him back home from his studies, and Hamlet is thrown into a totally new kingdom. Hamlet is an intelligent young man, he strives for education and seems to enjoy it, he is very philosophical and questions a lot about his environment. Hamlet is also a swift thinker, he is very manipulative, and can hold his tongue when need fit. For example, when his Mother tells him that she does not want him back at Wittenberg, he replies with, “ I shall in all my best obey you, madam”(1.2.120). This shows that Hamlet is definitely holding his tongue and not lashing out at his mother about going to school, he knows this will only further the problem. Hamlet is also a character that within the first two acts, the reader learns to pity. Hamlet is struggling with the death of his Father and all these unanswered questions buzzing around his head. One should not forget that Hamlet is still very young, and he does not have that many strong acquaintances to lean on. When Hamlet says,“For they are the actions that a man might play, but I have that within which passes show, these but the trappings and the suits of woe” (1.2. 85). This only furthers the readers sympathy for poor Hamlet, and he just needs time to figure everything out. Hamlet is a very smart, misunderstood, and angry kid, all he needs is some love, and to put down those Nirvana records and listen to some Dave Matthews.

    • Josh i totally agree with Hamlet listening to some Dave Matthews tunes. I really like your reasonings about Hamlet’s so called abnormal behaviour as we can relate since we are teenagers aswell. Everyone has difficult dealing with changes in life, especially ones so complex as Hamlet’s, having your mother marry your uncle is insane! Although, that’s what happens when a king dies you need to remarry fast to continue protecting the country. With all the frustration built up in Hamlet’s body he does not have a way to let out his anger as he is always in the spotlight because of his royalty status. He does not have the freedom to scream or blow of anger as other citizens would interpret as craziness and insanity just like the book. With heartbreak, his mom’s quick marriage, and loss in education, you are correct Josh as he just needs a few days to calm down and listen to some fantastic calming tunes 🙂
      Good job buddy!

      • I completely agree with both Josh and Michelle on this one, although im not sure i dislike ALL of my family. I definatly think that the fact Hamlet was taken out of school and brought back to an unfamiliar kingdom had a negetive effect on his entire thought process. And not only that, but he had to come back to a dead father, an incest obsessed mother, and a very greasy uncle. I think we can all agree that the family issues and frustrations that Hamlet has had to endure thus far are overwhelming, and i am sure there are many more to come. Maybe Hamlet needs to listen to something even more enlightning then Dave Matthews…Raffi Perhaps?

    • I agree with Josh, Michelle and Jacob:)
      I really like the point that Josh mentioned about Hamlet not having anyone to lean on in this situation for support. Hamlet being a young man is very intellectual for his age, but being young or any age for that matter, and learning that your uncle killed your father and married your mother, it doesn’t put you in the greatest mind set. So his madness is completely justified, and with little people to trust, he does not have anyone to talk to besides his mad-self. So its fair to say that Hamlet’s “got his ball, got his chain, tied to him tight, tied him up again”.(Dave Matthews) 😉

  10. Polonius at first glance could be considered to be a loving and caring father for his two children Ophelia and Laertes. To Laertes he gives good advice for how to survive away from home, with lessons such as “Neither a borrower or a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend” (I.iii.76-77). This would be expected of a father to give his only son, to be sure of his success in another land. With Ophelia Polonius I believe is a little more protective as he doesn’t want to see her get hurt. He convinces Ophelia to break the relationship she has with Hamlet off, as he believes it to be just a fling for Hamlet. “Do not believe his vows for they are brokers” (I.iii.127). This may seem unreasonable and overprotective which in a way it would be, but it shows just how much he does care for his daughter and doesn’t want to see anything happen to her. Although Polonius is a caring father towards his children, he is also extremely untrusting and frightened for his reputation. After Laertes has left for France Polonius has Reynaldo follow Laertes to France to spy and report what goes on. This shows just how little trust Polonius has in his son as he cannot let him go without knowing exactly what Laertes has done and is doing. I believe this to also be fear for the family name, Polonius seems to be a proud man and any mark upon the name from a wrong Laertes commits could be fatal to Polonius. Overall I believe Polonius loves his children and care for them greatly. His sense of caring although great tends to be shown in a different way then most, filled with overprotectiveness and dishonesty.

    • I really enjoyed your take on Polonius’ attitiude towards his kids. In most of the other comments i’ve read, everyone seems not to like him and believes him to be a snoopy old man.

      Although I don’t completely agree with your idea of Polonius being a great father, because I believe he’s only giving the advice to make his name look good, you’re ideas may just change my mind.

      Your point about ” This may seem unreasonable and overprotective which in a way it would be, but it shows just how much he does care for his daughter and doesn’t want to see anything happen to her.” Is a proof that makes him seem like a good father.

    • I really like this take on Polonius Miss Worthy. It really gives a new perspective on things. I thought before that Polonius was mostly a snoopy father, but this really changed my perspective. Kudos.

    • Polonius’ character is summarized very well in your post, Sam. I agree with you when you state that he loves his children very much, but feel I have a slightly different opinion when you say he does not trust his son.Although I think it is ridiculous that Polonius sent Reynaldo to spy on Laertes while in France, I think that his lack of trust has to come from somewhere. When Laertes is giving advice to Ophelia, he seems to be speaking from personal experience, and this may be why Polonius does not trust his son. If he is a party animal who has not earned the trust from his father, then I think Polonius has every right to not grant him his trust for free. I also believe, though, that he has taken these issues with Laertes much too far, and just needs to simmer down and relax a bit!

      • I agree with your idea that Polonius at a first glance is a loving and caring father. I also agree with you when you say that he cares for his children, but I also think he might be a little too overprotective in the way he tells Ophelia about Hamlet. I also think that Polonius has some status problems where he is too focused on his family status and ranking and he seems to portray this when he gives advice Ophelia to stop dating Hamlet. Polonius seems to skip over happily to the king and queen to tell them his take on Hamlet’s sanity and I think he seems to use his daughter’s break up with Hamlet to his advantage.

  11. With regards to Polonius, a rather fascinating character in Hamlet, it is evident that first impressions are not always accurate. Initially, when Polonius’ character is developed in scene iii of Act I, he is portrayed as a caring, wise father who gives insightful advice to his children, Ophelia and Laertes. Polonius offers his son valuable points about friendship, money, and “above all: to thine own self [being] true” (I.iii.78). My first impressions about his character, therefore, were very positive; however, my opinion changed once Polonius begins to discourage Ophelia from seeing Hamlet. I feel as though the image of Polonius alters from being one of a concerned father to that of an intrusive and controlling man. This impression of him intensifies in Act II, scene I, during which Polonius hires Reynaldo to investigate into Laertes’ personal affairs, by “what forgeries [Reynaldo] please” (II.i.20). Polonius’ belief that one has the right to do anything, however illegal or corrupt, in order to attain one’s objectives demonstrates that he is extremely immoral. I believe that his business with Reynaldo is highly unethical and that his actions show a true lack of respect towards his children and their privacy; nevertheless, I think that Polonius’ behaviour in Act II does not completely invalidate his earlier advice, for although he may not practice an honest lifestyle, his words still ring truth. In any case, Polonius’ following approach to Claudius about the cause of Hamlet’s madness only adds to my disliking of his character, for he blindly assumes that he is right about Hamlet being lovesick, as though he is all-knowing. Overall, I believe that Polonius is foolish in his ways, yet he is without a doubt successful in manipulating those around him.

  12. In Act 1 of Hamlet, the character Polonius is the father to Ophelia and Laertes. Throughout this act Polonius has many different characteristics and thoughts as well as actions he commits. In the beginning he is very cautious, perhaps too cautious, as he gives tons of advice for his son, Laertes, to follow when he leaves to go to France. He tells him to choose your friends wisely and to keep your old friends close, keep your own judgement but take in all opinions offered, not to always say what is on your mind, don’t borrow money or lend it to anyone because you will not get it back in return. This shows that he is worried for his son to depart but is glad to see his son leave, as he will learn many new experiences and gain knowledge, just like an ordinary parent would be. On the other hand, he does not accept the romance that is present between Ophelia and Hamlet. Since Polonius’ family is not a part of royalty, it is unable for Ophelia to marry Hamlet as it is strongly forbidden and unnatural for someone with royalty to marry someone who does not. “As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet Look to’t, I charge you. Come your ways” (p.19). With this dilemma, it leads to Polonius telling her Ophelia to leave Hamlet as their relationship would not develop farther under the circumstances. Later on though, Polonius is uncertain with what Laertes is doing in France. He asks Reynaldo to go to Paris to spy on him and seek information. ” What forgeries you please – marry, none so rank As may dishonour him” (p.29). Polonius tells Reynaldo that he can do anything to find out information, even if it means lying, cheating, or stealing. I feel as if Polonius only cares about his title and not about his children’s lives as he does not like having his daughter date someone with royalty, and always wants to know what is happening with his son’s life to make sure he is not doing anything that could effect his good status with the royal family

    • Michelle, I agree with your take on Polonius being a very cautious character. I believe the reason for his caution is because he doesn’t want any bad opinions about himself or his children. This is why I have to disagree with you on a few things. I think that he does want good things for his children; he doesn’t want to see Ophelia get hurt by Hamlet, so he is eliminating that from happening by taking her away from him. I also have to disagree with what you said about Polonius being happy to see his son go. I think the fact that Polonius gave Laertes all that advice is because he is nervous to see his son leave his supervision. I think he is nervous about getting embarrassed and losing respect from other people.

    • Michelle, I partially agree with what you said about Polonius. Polonius shows he cares about appearance when he tells Laertes, “Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, but not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy: for the apparel oft proclaims the man” (1.3.70-72). Although he cares about appearances, it does not mean that is all he cares about. When he tells Ophelia to break up with Hamlet, I believe it is only him looking out for his daughter just like any other father would do for their daughter. It is clear that appearance is important to Polonius, but I think his children are even more important to him.

  13. Throughout the first act, Hamlet shows traits of an eager, brave and a religious individual. Hamlet is portrayed as a rational person; he endures many thoughts about his father’s untimely death and its effect on him and his surroundings. Hamlet enters into a state of agony in relation to the existent situation of the royal household, he says, “My father’s brother, but no more like my father/ Than I to Hercules” (1.2.152-152), referring to the “incestuous” marriage between his deceased fathers brother and his mother. This shows that Hamlet truly cared for his father and did not want his mother to forget the memory of him so soon. He holds his father in high regard and compares him to a Greek hero. Through his reasoning, Hamlet seems to portray within himself the traits of bravery and the eagerness to live life to the fullest. This is seen when he states “Why, what should be the fear?/ I do not set my life at a pin’s fee” (1.4.64-65), but, I should mention that these are mere philosophical questions and not actual statements or actions against fear and life. In either case, these statements made me gain respect for Hamlet, because at this stage, even if they do not fully resembles his true being, such reasoning still shows that there is at least some good in him that can further be developed or uncovered, by the correct actions.

    • Eager, brave, and religious are three key words you have used to describe Hamlet. It is difficult to question that he is religious.

      However I would argue that he is not as eager or as brave as you say. The fact that he commits himself to killing Claudius so soon after the Ghost asked him seems unnatural.

      I think that his eagerness and bravery are the first symptoms of his insanity.

      Do you think that sound plausible?

      Is he eager and brave or just plain insane?

      • I think it is very possible that Hamlets bravery and eagerness are the first symptoms of his insanity but would not stand by that statement. I think that Hamlet has just experienced a “revelation” about his life, and sees it as the purpose of his existence (to seek revenge for his father’s murder). He is perhaps experiencing some kind of shock due to the latest occurrences, and various mixed thoughts on how to go on with his life. I described him as an eager man because of how eager he is to see the ghost of his father and how quickly he commits to seeking revenge for his father’s murder. However, I do not think that Hamlet is insane, I think he is very intelligent and is putting on an “act” for the court, in order to complete the task given to him by his fathers ghost. Therefore I do not think Hamlet is insane but is indeed eager and brave.

        I also found Hamlet to be a religious man because of one view in particular. When Hamlet doubts that the ghost whom he spoke with was his deceased father but rather the devil. This showed me that Hamlet does, believe in “the devil” and most likely God as well. As far as I know there are more proofs which show Hamlet as a religious but are irrelevant at this moment as they are not found in act one.

      • I believe that Hamlet is eager to avenge his father at first. However, he grows very hesitant, doubting the credibility of his father. He also thinks his father might be the devil come to damn him if he does kill his Uncle (2.2.596-601). This might be true, or Hamlet is just telling himself this, not really believing it, but saying it for an excuse to hesitate. Hamlet knows that his is delaying his father’s wishes and he says at the beginning of his second soliloquy, “O, what rogue and peasnt slave am I!” (2.2.545). Hamlet hates how he doesn’t have the courage to go through with the murder. He doubts if he can do it.

    • There is no doubt in my mind that Hamlet is a religious human being. However, I simply can’t see how Hamlet is truly eager and brave. Before I go on I must say that you did bring up some interesting ideas but, frankly your proof doesn’t justify these ideas. When Hamlet compares himself to Hercules he’s not saying that he’s strong, like you said, he’s implying that he is weak and a coward. True bravery isn’t shown by giving into your emotions and letting them take control of your judgement. It’s shown by doing what’s right, taking the road less travailed, not what’s easy. Hamlet takes the easy way out by walking the path of an avenger. Hamlet’s character is seen to be a thinker, so when he trust’s this so called ghost right away with out questioning if it’s real or not it causes me to question his sanity. Since “it’s our choices that show what we really are” (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), wouldn’t you agree that Hamlet choices prove that he isn’t really sane.

  14. Very caring and over protective, Polonius is a fairly important part of the play so far. I think it is fairly obvious that Polonius is trying to be a caring father with good intentions, however his two children, Ophelia and Laertes may disagree. We learn most about Polonius during his back and fourth with Laertes. Polonius’ well intended caring trait as a father is first observed when he gives his son Laertes his blessing for going away to a different country (France). “The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail and you are stayed for. There, my blessing with thee” (1.3.55). I believe that after this is said, Polonius is hiding the fear he has about Laertes, as it is hard to watch one of your children to go off on their own to a new country. Ophelia also has a lengthy interaction with her father Polonius shortly after Laertes leaves. This is where the nosey side of Polonius becomes slightly more evident, as any good father, he is trying to stay current with his children’s lives. However, I think that when Polonius hears about his daughters relationship with Hamlet that his nosey fatherly instinct becomes very evident. “I must tell you, you do not understand yourself so clearly As it behooves my daughter and your honour. What is between you? Give me up the truth” (1.3.95). After becoming familiar with Polonius through the first act of the play, my first impression is that there is a lot more to him then we are aware of, and that Act 1 Scene 3 will not be the last we see or hear of Polonius. I feel that he is attempting to be a caring father, but at the same time is coming off a nosey manipulative dad, and this could build on his character and our thoughts of him throughout the play.

    • I agree with you, he sure is a caring father who cares about his children and gives them advices due to what he thinks are right for them. He but as father has less faith in his children, so that is why he is concerned with Laertes and Ophelia as he thinks that they are immature children. Thus, he sends Reynaldo to keep an eye on his son to make sure that he doesn’t do anything which causes harm to him in the end and gives Ophelia advice of stop seeing Hamlet.

  15. Ophelia’s character is deserving of sympathy, due to her unfortunate situation. In both her relationship with her father, and her relationship with her brother Ophelia is taken advantage of, however under some circumstances, she manages to hold her own. When Ophelia first speaks with Laertes, he advises her that Hamlet’s feelings are not genuine and that they may never be able to marry. Ophelia replies:”I shall the effect of this good lesson keep as watchman to my heart. But, good my brother, do not, as some ungracious pastors do, show me the steep and thorny way to heaven whiles, like a puffed and reckless libertine, himself the primrose path of dalliance treads and recks not his own rede”(1.3.45-51). At this point, Ophelia promises to consider her brothers advice, however she manages to challenge his lifestyle as well. Her reaction to her brother’s statement is justifiable, and it reveals that she is able to defend herself. It also shows that although she appears to respect Laertes, she does resent his authority over her. Later, when speaking with her father, Ophelia completely submits to his orders. When he demands that she spend less time with Hamlet, Ophelia readily obeys, saying:”I shall obey, my lord”(1.3.136). After speaking with both her father and her brother, Ophelia becomes restricted in her actions, and is left doubting the validity of her relationship with Hamlet. Then, after Hamlet’s disturbing visit, Ophelia is left with the guilt of causing him such strong emotions despite the fact that it was not her choice to ignore Hamlet. To conclude, while Ophelia is capable of defending herself at times, she is frequently manipulated by her father and brother and is therefore subjected to unfavourable situations.

  16. Ophelia is an extremely interesting character in that she seems so aware of the doings of Laertes and at the same time completely unaware of Hamlet’s true intentions, at least according to her father (I, III, 101-103), Polonius, the scheming advisor to both the late King, Hamlet and the current King, Claudius. Before Laertes leaves for France he give’s his sister advice on dealing with Hamlet, revealing that all Hamlet really wants is a physical relationship. Ophelia however listens to his advice but does not promise to follow it, pointing out the hypocrisy committed by Laertes who really gets around with women (I, III, 45-51). While she may not listen to the brother so much, Ophelia really listens and obeys what Polonius has to say; so much so that she is willing to abandon her boyfriend and the man she loves at his whim (I, III, 132-136). Ophelia is interesting in that she will come to play an extremely important role as Hamlet’s forbidden (by her family anyways) lover and also in the way that she represents the father/daughter and sister/brother relationship between Polonius, Laertes and herself.

  17. At this point in the play I think that Ophelia is an intelligent woman that respects authority. Ophelia chooses her words carefully and uses them to her advantage. An example of this word use is during her conversation with her brother, Laertes. Ophelia says “‘Tis in my memory lock’d,/ And you yourself shall keep the key of it”(I.iii.85-86). This passage shows us, the audience, that Ophelia is clever because she does not say that she will follow his advice, she says she will remember his advice. Ophelia is a woman that is not in a relationship just to have “fun”. She seems to really care about Hamlet and is still pure. Three pieces of evidence that she is pure are: “I shall the effect of this good lesson keep,/ As watchman to my heart.”(I.iii.45-46), “My lord, he hath importuned me with love/ In honourable fashion”(I.iii.110-111) and “hath given countenance to his speech, my/ lord,/ With almost all the holy vows of heaven”(I.iii.112-114). Ophelia has an entirely different attitude with her Laertes then with her father, Polonius. Ophelia respects and obeys authority. Polonius tells Ophelia to do the same thing Laertes tells her to do but her response to Polonius is “I shall obey, my lord”(I.iii.136). This response tells us that Ophelia is willing to do anything Polonius tells her to do because he is in a place of authority over her. Overall Ophelia is an intelligent woman that respects authority above all else.

    • Although your main points about her being clever, and respectful of authority are very well laid out and proven, I don’t find myself convinced of her ‘pureness’. Stronger evidence could sell this better. The second quotation is strong, and might sell the point on its own, but the other two make me doubt it slightly. Otherwise, very strong points and well composed, I think.

    • I agree with Melody statement that Ophelia is an extremely intelligent woman but her pureness can be put to test for the predicament that Ophelia is involved with is highly scandalous. A woman who is supposed to have some social status seems to be acting wanton because she is trying to be with someone she is not allowed to have. Yes it is forbidden love, but in reality during that time period it would have caused a lot of problems because Hamlet is the next in line for the throne and their relationship would have not been accepted, as the King and Queen later confirm. But I do have to question Ophelia in that, if she really loved Hamlet to the great extent she proclaims but still needs to obey her father, why doesn’t she tell Hamlet about her predicament? He would probably be able to help her or ease her worries/pain and understand the situation because he does love her a lot. And I think that would have reduced the depression that Hamlet is going through because he would have the knowledge that he is loved truly by someone.

      • I agree with Supritha. If Ophelia had this “love” for Hamlet, she should have at least told him of her situation. By not telling him, one could argue that Ophelia doesn’t love Hamlet to the great extent she proclaims she does. Ophelia; with no signs of hesitation, obeys her father when he tells her not to be around Hamlet. When her brother Laertes is about to leave her to go to France, she tells him that she’ll keep his advice about staying away from Hamlet in her head; but when Ophelia’s father talks with her and tells her not to be in contact with him, she listens to Polonius, saying, “I shall obey, my lord” (I.iii.136), almost as if her heart has changed instantaneously from when she was speaking with Laertes. Not only that, but she also keeps herself from being with Hamlet without even notifying him; of what’s happening, or what her father has said. It’s suspicious that she’s acting so swift to her father’s words; because, Ophelia states that she has this affection towards him, yet it doesn’t seem like she is attempting to go against her dad’s will at all. In fact, she seems more passionate about obeying her father than loving Hamlet. “No, my good lord; but, as you did command, I did repel his letters and denied His access to me” (II.i.109-111).

    • I agree with your comment about Ophelia being intelligent. Ophelia knows how to use her words to ‘get back’ at people but when it comes to her father she is totally repectful. She is almost too respectful to a point where she obeys her father even though the outcome of those actions would be loosing Hamlet, which she claims she loves. I agree with your point that Ophelia respects authority above all else. She respects Polonius above her love for Hamlet which really proves this point.

  18. Ophelia is definitely my kind of girl. She has a backbone, she isn’t as thick as a board and she shows loyalty towards her father. The last one might seem kind of odd to some of you but I’ll get to that shortly. First, it is nice to see a woman who can stick up for herself. In Act 1 scene 3 she shows her backbone when Laertes and Polonius both confront her and tell her to stay away from Hamlet. To her brother, Laertes she says, “Do not, as some ungracious pastors do, show me the steep and thorny way to heaven, whilst, like a puff’d and reckless libertine, himself the primrose path dalliance treads and recks not his own rede” (1.3.47-51). Ophelia takes her brother’s advice with a grain of salt. She is not ignorant of her brother’s promiscuous acts, showing that she is not dumb but is actually quite aware of what is going on around her. Intelligence is a must if I am to be spending time with her. She also tries to stick up for herself and persuade Polonius, her father, that Hamlet is a good guy and his feelings toward her are sincere. However, her father does not agree and therefore she does follow his wishes and says, “I shall obey, my lord” (1.3.136). Do not get me wrong, I do love when women stick up and think for themselves. That is of great importance to me. Her showing that she is loyal to her father would also mean that she would be loyal to me. But hearing those words five come out of her mouth might make me go weak at the knees. Lastly, if Hamlet, a man that could get any women in Denmark, is hanging around Ophelia, that must say something for her looks. I can honestly say that Ophelia must have been the Megan Fox of Shakespeare’s time. Yep, she is definitely my kind of girl.

    • Pat you nailed this one on the head, Ophelia is a total fox. She stands up for herself, she is strong, and most importantly she fights for things that she is passionate about. She is also quick on her feet, for example when her brother criticizes her about dating Hamlet she retorts with a sassy remark. Like you said, “She is actually quite aware of what is going on around her.” This also furthers her intelligence, she is not ignorant and blind to everything around her, she is well informed and independent. Ophelia is a total fox and is a brilliant young lady, Hamlet is a lucky man.

      • Although the two of you definitely make some solid points, I have to disagree with you on this one. Comparing Ophelia to the very gorgeous Megan Fox solely based on the assumption that Hamlet could win over any girl in the kingdom seems like quite a stretch, to be perfectly frank. If anything, I see Ophelia as more of a Taylor Swift willing to let Kanye West walk all over her. Yes, it’s true that she defends her relationship with Hamlet when confronted by her brother Laertes, so I’ll give her props for that; however, she really doesn’t put up much of a fight against her father. I believe that if Ophelia were truly a strong woman, she would follow her heart and defend her love for Hamlet until the very end, even if it would mean defying Polonius’ wishes. Ophelia’s assertiveness aside, I strongly agree with your remarks on her awareness of Laertes’ questionable behaviour, and I enjoyed the approach you took to convey your ideas.

      • I have to say I disagree with both Tanweer/Pat and Adriana on the topic of Ophelia, because while she is certainly aware of Laertes’ doings as well as assertive when it comes to his advice towards her, she ultimately has very little choice when it comes to obeying her father, especially during this time period, and this really puts a questions of how loyal she is exactly in the forefront of my mind. During this time period in France, and almost right up to the French Revolution, the “head of the household” had control over anyone living in it, including anyone from their servants to their mother! (Yes girls I’m sorry to disappoint but this “head of the household” was, 99% of the time, male and it was a common practice throughout Europe at the time.) So basically what I’m saying is that while Ophelia may be admirable for standing up to her brother, her love for Hamlet, and her awareness of the world around her, she is ultimately just a girl who has become a victim of the time during which she lived.

      • I have to disagree david. Ophelia does show that she wants to be with Hamlet, she fights her father on it. She does give in however,and stays loyal to him because she does follow through with his wishes when she could just be with Hamlet behind his back.

      • Point of Clarification: I agree that Ophelia wants to be with Hamlet, I think I said something about her love for him being admirable, however loyalty isn’t something that you’re forced to give and at this point in time Ophelia IS being forced to give loyalty towards her father. Being with Hamlet behind Polonius’ back would be dangerous at this time, especially considering Hamlet’s rank and the fact that neither of their guardians agree with the relationship.

  19. Polonius proves himself to be highly intelligent and thoughtful, with the advice given to his progeny. One of the main themes of the play is “To thine ownself be true”( I,iii, 82), and is taken from the advice Polonius shares with his son before his departure to France. Polonius gives beneficial advice to Laertes on how to conduct himself in a way that will bring about a successful lifestyle. Polonius’s advice includes how to be a strong person socially. Polonius tells advises Laertes to refrain from always speaking your mind, hear every man’s opinion, but express your own ideas to few. Polonius also suggests to be friendly, but not overly friendly, and guarantee yourself against being false to others by setting up the high moral principle of being true to yourself. I also believe that Polonius is a very political thinker, and it is apparent through his advice to his daughter, Ophelia. Polonius gives Ophelia advice regarding her relationship with Hamlet, and how it is not in her best interests for her to stay with him. “Ophelia do no believe his vows; for they are brokers”(l,iv,34). This means that though Hamlet may love Ophelia now, he will never be able to marry her because she is not of royal blood, so it would not reflect well on the country, and because Denmark must come first, their relationship is a definite failure. Polonius may be a man of morally questionable actions, but does contribute a variety of applicable, intelligent advice to those he cares about.

    • This is an interesting take on Polonius. Whereas most people chose to bash him for his distrust, you’ve praised him for his intellect. I rather enjoyed reading a differnt view of him. You have strong evidence. Using direct quotes throughout the piece could have make it even stronger, but it is still well composed and believable.

  20. Polonius is a character in this play that is very misleading. He gives the impression of being a wonderful, trusting father, who is full of valuable advice. However, upon closer inspection, we can see he is actually a very distrusting, and controlling character.
    He gives his son, Laertes advice that seems to be there to help him be successful in life, “The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,/ Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel,/ But do not dull thy palm with entertainment” (I.iii.63-64). Polonius tells Laertes that he should make friends but do not spend too much time with them if they are of lower class than you; be nice, but don’t cheapen yourself. When you look at this closer you can see that Polonius had a hidden message in what he said. Polonius doesn’t want Laertes to cheapen the family’s image by spending too much time with people of lower class. At this point the audience can understand that Polonius is all about appearances. It seems that the only reason he cares about what his son is doing is because he doesn’t want himself to be reflected badly upon.
    We can also see how controlling, as well as distrustful, Polonius is when he talks to his daughter Ophelia and says, “What is between you? give me up the truth.” (I.iii.98). This line shows generally how untrusting he is. He doesn’t believe that Hamlet is being honourable towards his daughter and decides to insert himself in her business. He tells her that she needs to break up with Hamlet because he, Polonius, believes that Hamlet and Ophelia could never work out. I think this was completely unnecessary on Polonius’ part because he had no evidence that Hamlet was being dishonourable at all.
    Polonius is a character in this play that is all about appearances. He believes that one should do anything in one’s power to keep up appearances, even if that means being dishonest and controlling what one shouldn’t control. I believe Polonius being so controlling and misleading will negatively affect Ophelia, Hamlet, Laertes, and ultimately the end result of the play.

  21. Hamlet needs more friends who really care about him, or he could end up taking his own life before he takes Claudius’. He has already considered it.

    “O, that this too too-solid flesh would melt,
    Thaw and resolve itself to a dew!
    …His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! God! O God!” (1.2.129-132).

    You can almost taste the desperation of his need to end the suffering and agony. Unless more of his friends, such as Horatio-“the voice of reason”, help him out of his isolation, it seems as though he will easily be driven to the ends of his desperation.
    Plagued by depression, Hamlet wrestles with his suicidal thoughts but at the same time, he is consumed with anger and bitterness towards life, particularly his mother.

    “Frailty, thy name is woman!
    …O most wicked speed, to post
    With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!” (1.2.146 & 156-167)

    He expresses his rage with such eloquent words. His cynical outburst is very bitter as he recalls his mother’s “o’er hasty” marriage.

    But who can blame him? He is a victim to the vice of this cruel world. His father’s death, his mother’s marriage, and the betrayal of his girlfriend all contribute to his internal struggle.

    His depression is not too dangerous, however, as the book reveals that he is a thinker. He questions everything and is indecisive. He thinks things through and is not action-oriented. I have a feeling that it’s going to the whole play for him to finally do something.

    • I agree with your opinion of Hamlet’s high level of intellect. I believe Hamlet’s intelligence plays an important role in the play, as he is a ‘think before you act’ kind of person, which causes his hesitation of avenging his father.

      I personally do not believe Hamlet’s depression was to such a level as to where he’d take his own life. I think that the way Hamlet second-guesses his suicide, and how Hamlet blamed his religion was a sign that he was not at such a level where he would actually commit to the act. Though I absolutely do not doubt the level of Hamlet’s depression, as you prooved in your evidence.

  22. In Act 1, Polonius is seen as an understanding and caring father. Not only does he allow his son Laertes to do what he wants; by going to France, saying, “Upon his will I sealed my hard consent; I do beseech you, give him leave to go” (I.ii.60-61), he also blesses him twice, and gives him numerous advices for his leave. One of the many things he tells his son is, “Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but being in, bear ’t that th’ opposèd may beware of thee” (I.iii.65-67). He warns him not to start fights, but if he ends up in a situation where someone may harm him, Polonius advises Laertes to fight back as best as he can. He also tells him, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry” (I.iii.75-77) and, “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” (I.iii.78-80). Polonius reminds him not to borrow money from his friends, because it may result in the loss of both friend and money. He also tells Laertes to be true to himself, because then he won’t lie to others. With this, Polonius sends his son away to France, and can be seen as a loving father by his actions. However, my views on Polonius change in Act 2 Scene 1. Here, he asks of Reynaldo to go to France to spy on his son. Some may see this action of his as a caring gesture; but for me, it shows that Polonius fails to trust his son. If it was an action of love, he could have sent Reynaldo to France, to just check up on Laertes once in a while, and write back to him on how he’s doing. Instead, he takes it a step further. “You, laying these slight sullies on my son as ’twere a thing a little soiled i’ th’ working— Mark you, your party in converse, him you would sound, having ever seen in the prenominate crimes the youth you breathe of guilty, be assured he closes with you in this consequence: “Good sir” or so, or “Friend,” or “Gentleman,” according to the phrase or the addition of man and country” (II.i.39-48). His plan is for Reynaldo to be sly in his findings, and Polonius wants him to use reverse psychology to figure out if Laertes is up to no good. He tells him to go around, hinting people that Laertes has committed certain faults. He also notifies that some people will agree with his remarks, and will even become friends with him. This way, he can determine if Laertes has committed sins, and could go back to the same source for more information on what Laertes is up to. If Polonius were to act in more of a caring gesture and sent his servant to look after his son and not spy on him secretly, I would maintain the view I had for him in Act 1; where he’s seen as loving father who blesses his son, and gives him life lessons.

    • Jason, I have to agree with your perception of Polonius’ actions. He may be trying to show a caring attitude towards his son, but instead of using honesty and trust,to find information about his son’s actions in France, he uses tricks and deceiving methods instead.

      Also, your points show strong support of what lengths Polonius is willing to go with his plans.

  23. I have a feeling that it’s going to take* the whole play for him to finally do something.

  24. Hamlet is already showing signs of depression in the first act of the play. He talks about killing himself when he says, “Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d his cannon ‘gainst self slaughter! God! O God! How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world (1.2.131-133).” Another statement that causes me to think that Hamlet doesn’t value his life very much is, “Why, what should be the fear? I do not set my life at a pin’s fee (1.4.65-66).” Hamlet also seems to blame his mother a lot for marrying his uncle so quickly and I would tend to agree with Hamlet; that is sort of weird. However Hamlet is a bit more worked up about it than he should be: “Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears had left the flushing of her galled eyes, she married:- O most wicked speed, to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets (1.2.154-157)!” Even after his fathers ghost tells him not to hate his mother he still says, “O pernicious woman! O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain (1.5.106-107)!” I think this is a situation where Hamlet should maybe try and forgive his mother or, if not, at least forget.

    • Good post Dave. Your approach to Hamlets charachter is very rational and logical. Your piece of advice to Hamlet,

      “I think this is a situation where Hamlet should maybe try and forgive his mother or, if not, at least forget.”

      is a piece of advice I pray he will follow later on in the play. Let’s hope he does not pull an “Oedipus” and drive his mother to kill herself.

      What are your thoughts on the Oediopus-Gertrude relationship? Do you think it will end violently or peacefully?

      • Thanks Soma, that’s an interesting comparison: Hamlet-Gertrude to Oedipus-Jocasta. I agree with you that there is a distinct possibility of Hamlet and Gertrude’s relationship developing into something similar to Oedipus and Jocasta relationship. Personally I hope that Hamlet and Gertrude’s relationship ends violently just because that would be much more interesting.

  25. In my opinion I think that Polonius is a very honest and caring character. He tells it like it is. I like that about him. Even though I don’t accept and understand his morals, in a way they still make sense. I don’t like the fact that he assumes that all young people want to do is party. He should realize and accept the fact that not everyone is like that. I like how in the first act he gives his son Laertes advice about how to act and behave while he’s in France. An example of advice that he gives is when he says “Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar”(Act 1.2,line 61). He’s telling his son to not socialize too much with ordinary people. He’s telling him to be friendly, but to not give too much of himself away. This shows a lot about his character. He cares about his children, but at the same time he lacks trust in them. But I guess that it’s like that with every parent. They believe in their children, but not enough to trust them. I think that he trusts his son more than he trusts his daughter because in act 1 scene 3, he orders her to stop seeing Hamlet, and she obeys. This shows that she really trusts and respects him. “I shall obey, my lord”(Act1.2, line 136). Polonius says and believes that hamlet doesn’t really love Ophelia. He believes that he only wants to trick her. He really cares about his children. He seems like an okay parent who plays a pretty active role in his children’s lives. He’s a very wise, caring, and honourable character because he has a lot of strong, useful, and good morals and advice. He cares strongly about the well-being of his children. He’s a respected individual because both his children respect him. He really lacks trust because he hires his servant to deliver money to his son in France and spy on him. Innocent enough, right? WRONG!!! At the same time he coaches him to spy on Laertes. This proves that he didn’t trust his own son before he left. He seems like a good character who lacks a lot of trust.

    • I agree with your take on Polonius. While most people believe him to be an uncaring father, you sense that he is truly a caring and honest father. While he does have his faults with not being able to trust his children, it shows he does care and wants them to be safe. I like the fact that you compared Polonius to modern day parents, as its true they don’t put absolute trust in their children. Really who would? Children aren’t always the smartest in their actions sometimes complete trust can be deadlier to children then no trust at all. Im interested to know if you believe if Polonius will learn to put more trust in his son Laertes before the play is out?

  26. From what I know about Hamlet, he is faced with many difficult obstacles like dealing with his mother’s marriage to his uncle and his father’s death, but my impression thus far is that he is an immature hot head that can’t seem to keep his emotions under control. Hamlet feels a great deal of anger towards his mother for marrying his uncle, only a few short months after the death of his father. After his father’s ghost comes to him and tells him to avenge his death, he makes excuses and let’s his emotions get in the way of acting. He says, “Why, she would hang on him, as if increases of appetite had grown by what it fed on: and yet, within a moth— et me not think on’t—Frailty, thy name is woman!—A little month, or ere those shoes were old with which she followed my poor father’s body, like Niobe, all tears;—why she even she,— O God!”(I,ii,33). In Hamlet’s second soliloquy, he talks about how upset he is with himself for not following through on his word, saying “Like a John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause, and can say nothing.”(II,ii,125), but right after that he continues making up excuses for himself saying “The spirit that I have seen may be the devil.” (II,ii,127). If Hamlet had been more mature he would have taken action and put his emotions aside.

    • I really enjoyed your comment and I agree completely with all of your points. You offered great evidence to reinforce your point of view. Do you feel there a leading cause of his growing madness and if so, which of the causes of his madness that you listed do you feel is effecting his emotions and decision making the most? As well, do you feel that Hamlet has it in him to actually kill his uncle and avenge his father’s murder?

  27. Many of you (Rachel, Waleed, Melody, Tanweer, and Patrick) have noted the role that Hamlet’s anger plays in his understanding of his father’s death and his resentment over mother’s hasty marriage. Mark, on the other hand, reminds us of Hamlet’s rationality, a sharp contrast to Kimimsoo’s and David’s observations of his desperation. Yusef’s answer to Hamlet’s quandary is that he should simply put his emotions aside.

    While your comments have referred to Act 1, we have recently read Polonius’s assessment of his madness. In Act 2, scene 2, Polonius states that he is “far gone, far gone: and/ truly in my youth I suffered much extremity for love; very near this” (2.2.185-187). This statement is in sharp contrast to Hamlet’s own reflection that he knows a “hawk from a handsaw” (2.2.272). How do you explain these contrasting perceptions of our Dane’s increasingly complex “madness”– mad, spurned lover versus clever, dissembler?

    • Well, i think that Hamlet isn’t quite all there in the first place. I don’t think that the Ophelia leaving him has anything to do with it. Hamlet was probably just using Ophelia because he knows that he can never marry her. His outward signs of insanity are all of his making. Hamlet yourself appear insane shows that he isn’t the most rational guy. He goes on impulse.

      • I agree with Pat in saying that his madness is not the result of Ophelia’s neglect for their relationship. Although out of his madness I do believe that he is a rational guy. While he may be acting insane or mad, he does not necessarily react on impulse. This can be noted through his soliloquies. You can tell that Hamlet is a thinker, and in him thinking about something, like avenging his fathers death, it can be seen that he has already begun to procrastinate in his decision of what to do.

      • I always had the impression that Hamlet although maybe sane in the first Act, starts losing his sanity as the play progresses because of the madness he is submerging himself into. I feel like he is trying to hard to act mad but at the same trying to mask his emotions of hatred toward Claudius and Gertrude. He has sunk into a such a deep depression and I fear he will soon lose all of his rationality.

      • Like Superitha has perceived, Hamlet is suffering from mental disorder. His behaviour really does demonstrate deep depression. The lack of ability to think clearly, the ability to make a decision, the the ability to act are just three symptoms of depression. Severe symptoms include suicidal thoughts and failing to realize that they are even depressed. Hamlet’s behaviour definitely corresponds with these symptoms. I too, am afraid he will sink further and become helpless in the fight for his sanity.

    • It is shocking for Hamlet to know that Ophelia doesn’t want him to see her anymore, but that is not the main reason for Hamlet to be mad. Hamlet is mad on his uncle and upset because on his mother. The reason for this is their hasty marriage which they are happily celebrating and other people still can’t get over the fact that their king is dead. Moreover, Hamlet knows that he cannot follow exact same footsteps of his father. As for Polonius, he is exaggerating because he is concerned about his daughter.

  28. Polonius is an intelligent character. He has plenty of advice for his children such as “The friends thou hast, and their adoptions tried,/ Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel…” (1.3.62-63) among other things he says to Laertes or “Do not believe his vows; for they are brokers/…Breathing like sanctified and pious bonds,/ The better to beguile,” (1.3.125-131) to Ophelia. He warns Laertes of the consequences of being overly trusting, always speaking his mind, and borrowing or lending money, and warns Ophelia that she is in a bad relationship. He is also intelligent because he sends Reynaldo to France to spy on Laertes and find out the truth about him. This action makes him intelligent because he is smart enough to realize that he does not necessarily know everything about his son and that Laertes is not behaving the way he should be behaving.
    Although he is intelligent, I also find Polonius rather controlling and opinionated. In Act 1 Scene 3, he doesn’t stop bothering Ophelia about her relationship with Hamlet until the end of the scene when she says “I shall obey, my lord” (1.3.136). He doesn’t know very much about the relationship yet still doesn’t leave Ophelia alone until he gets his way.

  29. Polonius is the character that brings lots of problems to Hamlet, and his two children. Polonius consistently shows traits that would categorize him as an evil character.

    Polonius shows that he is extremely intrusive in other people’s lives, the first example is in the beginning of II.i when he orders Reynaldo to go spy on his own son to be completely sure that he isn’t bringing dishonor to himself or his family in France. Polonius again demonstrates ruthlessness when he tells Reynaldo that he must use any necessary force such as lying, fighting, or stealing in order to get the required information about his son. Polonius is intrusive when it comes to his daughter’s affairs. When she is with Hamlet, Polonius places himself into the young lovers’ situation and assumes that Hamlet does not love Oephelia enough, and forces her to break up with him in I.iii.136. After Oephelia denies all conversation with Hamlet, he pretends to go insane, as a bluff to hide the conversation with the ghost. Polonius asks the king and queen if they consider him a faithful and honorable man, then offers his assistance to find what is wrong with Hamlet, by spying on him in II.i.151-153.

    Polonius makes it his personal duty to place himself in other people’s business, and does what he justifies as “right”.

    • I agree with you Nick, in that Polonius is an evil character. But I have to disagree with you in that his intrusion in his children’s lives is unjust. When Polonius tells his son, Laertes, the rules to follow when he is in France he is only trying to protect him, and his family’s name by stopping him from doing things like borrowing money and getting into fights, which really isn’t a bad thing. I got the impression that you think that Polonius should completely stay out of Oephelia’s affairs, but you should remember that this play is based in completely different time period. It would be unheard of for a father to stay out of his child’s (especially his daughter’s) love life.

  30. OPH.

    Ophelia’s reactions and attitude toward her brother and her father are very presumable. I think Ophelia’s character is very realistic in her behaviors, and is a character that we can all relate to. When Laertes is giving his sister advice on her relationship with Hamlet, he explains that she could never end up with him because he is of royal decent. He also goes on to say that she should not fall so easily for Hamlet because his love is not real and she should just leave him. Ophelia, being the younger sister and being told off by her brother, who is not that much older then her, is not pleased with the statements and the command. She replies by saying “Do not, as some ungracious pastors do, Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven”(I, IV). Meaning that Laertes should not speak such words, and he should take his own advice. I find that this is a very realistic response from a younger sister who is able to grasp an imperfection in an older brothers action. When Polonius demands that she stops seeing Hamlet, she is quick to react in a gracious manner to her fathers command by saying, “I shall obey my lord”(I, IV). This is showing that Ophelia has much more respect for her father, and will not be bossed around by her bigger hypocritical brother.

  31. Ophelia is a very gentle, loving and beatiful character. She doesn’t take advice from her brother, insulting him back and standing up for herself but when it comes to her father she doesn’t say anything against him. She listens to Polonius and agrees to do exactly what he says. Ophelia gives the impression that she is annoyed with her father but can’t do anything about that since he has the more powerful position in the family. The impression I got when we were first introduced to Ophelia was that she doesn’t really get to live her own life and seems as though she is being told by her father what to do. Ophelia’s wishes are never really considered at any time. It is apparent that Ophelia is an obediant person, but when you really think about it, we can see that she really isn’t. Her thoughts and actions go beyond obedience to show that she is weak and a very dependent character. Nothing that she really says or does actually seem like her, it seems more like a reflection of Polonius. An example of this would be Ophelia’s actions toward Hamlet, which go against her feelings for him and shows what her father wants her to do. Ophelia’s actions don’t match with her feelings at the beginning of the play when she says that she likes Hamlet a lot. She does anything her father tells her to do regardless of the outcome on herself. She obeys whatever Polonius says: “I shall obey, my lord.” (I, IV). Ophelia’s actions show that Polonius has complete control over her because she sacrifices her love to Hamlet to please her father. This shows that Ophelia is actually a weak and dependent character.

  32. Polonius, in Act 1 comes across as a caring father to his children Ophelia and Laertes. His words of wisdom that he shares with them push the audience to believe that his true intentions are the well being and happiness of his children. The romance between Ophelia and Hamlet is something that Polonius doesn’t want for his daughter, he tells her that she should stop seeing him and break things off with Hamlet because they would never be able to actually, truthfully be accepted as a couple. “As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet. Look to’t, I charge you. Come your ways” (1,5,134-135). This shows that Polonius cares about his daughter; he is simply looking out for her, and doesn’t want her to carry on with the relationship if she is just going to get hurt in the end; like any father would do for his daughter. To his son Laertes, Polonius shares his life lessons before his son leaves for France. Polonius enlightens him with lessons like, never say what you are thinking, hold onto your close friends, don’t fight but if you do kick butt, take all opinions but make your own decisions, don’t spend to much money or flaunt it, don’t borrow or lend things to others, and to be true to ones self. Overall his fatherly characteristics and actions towards his children prove himself to be a caring and protective father. However in the second Act, Polonius proves just the opposite of what he was previously thought about. He questions what Laertes is actually doing in France. Polonius sends Reynaldo to France and tells him that he can do whatever is takes to find out what is son is doing. “What forgeries you please-marry, none so rank as may dishonor him, take heed of that, but, sir such wanton and usual slips, as are companions noted and most known to youth and liberty” (pg19). Cheating, lying and making fun of his son, anything that Reynaldo can do to get information on Laertes are okay with Polonius. This shows that his initial impression on the audience is just an act. I think that he is fatherly with his children when he is with them, but behind there backs he really only cares for himself. He wants his reputation and status to remain the same and won’t have his children bring his status down in the eyes of royalty.

  33. A few people have been commenting on Hamlet’s insanity (Soma, Dan, Pat, Supretha, Laura, Kimimsoo) saying that he is either insane or suffering from a mental disorder. I have to say I disagree. I never got the feeling from Acts I and II that Hamlet is not an intelligent, rational, mentally healthy person. He thinks his actions through very thoroughly and to those who question whether or not the Ghost is real, there are three other people besides Hamlet, one of which who is a scholar, that have seen and believe that the ghost is real. The fact that Hamlet would question the identity of the Ghost and notice that the Ghost, though real, may not be his father and may actually be the Devil trying to trick him shows that his mental ability has not been impaired. He also has not yet acted on his promise to kill Claudius because he is still REASONING out whether or not killing Claudius is the right action to take. On top of that, his anger and depression is totally justified. There are plenty of reasons for him to be angry, which makes the argument that his anger and depression are a sign of insanity invalid. Finally, what no one seems to remember is that in Act 1 Scene 5 Hamlet says to Marcellus and Horatio: “As I perchance hereafter shall think meet / To put an antic disposition on, / That you at such times seeing me, never shall, / …note/ That you know aught of me:” (1.5.172-180). So basically he is saying, “If you see me acting crazy later, ignore it and don’t tell anyone that you know I’m faking.” So in Act II that “later” mentioned above is now. The insanity of Act II is purposely put on by Hamlet, according to what he said earlier. He can think clearly, he hasn’t acted on his promise to kill Claudius yet because he’s trying to decided whether it’s the right thing to do (after all it IS murder we’re talking about here) and he doesn’t act on impulse which seems to be a popular opinion.

  34. Polonius is the father of both Laertes his son, and Ophelia his daughter. During Act 1 Scene 3, Polonius arrives and gives Laertes advice about how he should behave while in France. Before Laertes departs for his journey to France, Polonius blesses him with words of advice that Polonius wants him to adhere to. Polonius tells Laertes that he must not socialize too much with ordinary people, and to be friendly, but to give too much of himself away. Polonius also tells Laertes that he should not just become friends with the first person you meet, because it “dull thy palm with entertainment Of each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade” (1.3 64-65). Polonius goes on to give Laertes more advice for when Laertes is in France, and then Laertes finally departs. Once Polonius’ son arrives at France, Polonius gets Reynaldo to spy on Laertes because he has become curious to what his son is up to. Polonius tells Reynaldo to do anything necessary to find out information about his son, even if it involves lying, or disgracing Laertes’ honour. This shows how Polonius is a person that is very intrusive, and must know what is happening in his son’s life. Even though Polonius demonstrates characteristics of nurturing and intelligence by providing his son Laertes with important information, Polonius should not be meddling with his sons affairs.
    Polonius not only gives advice to Laertes, he also advises Ophelia as to what she should do with her life. Polonius tells Ophelia that Hamlet is just using her and that Ophelia should “not believe his vows; for they are brokers, Not of that dye which their investments show, But mere implorators of unholy suits, Breathing like sanctified and pious bonds, The better to beguile” (1.3 127-131). Later on, Polonius comes to discover that Hamlet truly does care for his daughter Ophelia. Polonius responds to this information by calling Hamlet insane, and thinks that he is not right in the head to be with Ophelia. Polonius’ unthoughtful insights towards Hamlet show how he is ignorant, and incapable of judging who is daughter should be with.

  35. Ophelia is a character that has a lot more depth than what is shown. The way that she manipulates people is just surfacing and I believe will play a large part in the rest of the play.
    Ophelia uses words to deceive people when she is talking to them. We first see this when she is talking to her father, Polonius, and he brother, Laertes: “‘Tis in my memory lock’d.” (1.3.85) (to Laertes), “I shall obey, my lord.” (1.3.136) (to Polonius). Ophelia seems to have control over her own destiny, unlike many in that time. Ophelia does not directly obey what is suggested to her by her brother and father, she manipulates words to create an answer that makes her kin content with her answer. I believe that Ophelia’s prowess and the ability to keep people happy will make her a significant role in the play.
    Although a very strong role, Ophelia does not fight all the battles that she faces on her own. When confronted by Hamlet in her room, Ophelia, scared and frightened, decides that the best action to take would be to confront her father, Polonius, and let him take care of what needs to be done. Ophelia says while talking to her father: “He took me by the wrist and held me hard; Then goes he to the length of all his arm, And, with his other hand thus o’er his brow, He falls to such perusal of my face as he would draw it.” (2.1.88). We do not yet know the full extent of the relationship that Hamlet and Ophelia share. We know that Hamlet was courting Ophelia, but that really is all that we know. The detail that Ophelia uses while talking to Polinius about the encounter leads me to believe that Ophelia has a feeling within her about Hamlet. What that feeling is I am not yet sure. However the result of Ophelia talking to Polonius was Polonius sending Rosencratz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet. I believe that this was the action Ophelia wanted Polonius to take. I feel that Ophelia was in control of the situation the entire time and was using her manipulation skills to her advantage.

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