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Claudius has been presented in the theatre as a worthy King and Polonius as an amiable and sensible father. What is your response to the ways in which Shakespeare presents one of these characters?

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Introduction

Claudius has been presented in the theatre as a worthy King and Polonius as an amiable and sensible father. What is your response to the ways in which Shakespeare presents one of these characters? It is hard to judge the character of Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet, due to the fact Shakespeare presents many of the events not only through Hamlet's eyes, but the eyes of Polonius' children and the King, and through these different people he is presented in different ways. However, there is a great deal more to this multi-faceted character in the play, as his presence and actions in the play is of great importance, before and after his death. Polonius is presented in different ways in various stage productions; usually, he is presented as a wise man, and one with great influence upon his son and daughter, Laertes and Ophelia, and of a man highly respected by King Claudius, Queen Gertrude and the people of Denmark. Despite this, he can become a rather comic character, if the company wishes Hamlet to be presented more positively. As Polonius is presented through different productions in different ways, it is difficult to evaluate his true nature. ...read more.

Middle

as friends: "grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel"; clothes: "costly thy habit as thy purse can buy"; money: "neither a borrower or a lender be" and socialising: "Give each man thy ear, but few thy voice" he is very succint and wise in approach. The last two lines, "Thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell, my blessing season this in thee.", can be seen as very selfless and purely for the good of his son. Furthermore, Laertes' apparent and civilised respect found just as Polonius enters later, remarking that "A double blessing is a double grace; Occasion smiles upon a second leave." again shows Laertes' courtesy towards his father as a very wise man and a person of great importance to him. Later in the play, seemingly in another act of parental restriction, Polonius is presented to involve himself in relations with Ophelia and Hamlet in a meddlesome manner. He does not want a daughter that would succumb to what he thinks Hamlet is after: sexual relations, and those alone. Shakespeare could be presenting Polonius as using a lie as an example to sway her, and he says how he does "know, / When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul / Lends the tongue vows.", maybe ...read more.

Conclusion

Hamlet sees Polonius as an important factor in two issues: the first being his involvement with the quick change of throne after his father's death, where Hamlet suspects Polonius as the reason he lost out on reign over Denmark, as it is probable that Polonius helped Claudius into power while he was away; and secondly, the guessed interference with Hamlet's relations with Ophelia, and how they degenerated quickly over time. Polonius, although relatively foolish in certain actions, is an innocent man. He arguably does everything for his children in their best interests, and is loyal to the King and Queen. It is fair to say he is a victim of his own eavesdropping, although he does it to prove what he believes is the truth, and therefore what is a threat to who and what are important to him. I would conclude that Polonius is very much the amiable and sensible father many theatre productions make him out to be. Not only is he amiable and sensible, but his impact within the play is quite enormous. His speeches represent the themes of the play: corruption, and the difference between appearance and reality. Even after his untimely death, Polonius seems to reach into every aspect of Hamlet. He encompasses so many elements of the play; perhaps more than even Hamlet does; and is arguably the most important character in the play. ...read more.

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