Analyzing the Personality of Polonius

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Polonius is perhaps the most debated character in Hamlet due to his controversial lines and even more controversial personality. There have been scholars and philosophers arguing over whether or not William Shakespeare intended for Polonius to be an intelligent, scheming character or simply a comedic old man who happened to have a propensity for skulking. Like his nature, this essay will be a contrast to itself through analysis of his actions and words expressed through disputing points of view. Polonius can be viewed as either the wise old man, a fool, or perhaps as the wise old fool; regardless of which is applied, there is much evidence to support any deliberation. In every major play written by Shakespeare there is a fool, Polonius possesses the characteristics exhibited by an old fool (more specifically a court jester) as Shakespeare uses him to amuse others and show humor in Hamlet. In the first act of the play, Polonius reveals himself immediately to be contradictory to himself in his own speech. After many lines of a speech in which he tells Laertes to hide his feelings and impulses, to impress people by rich clothing and by acting in manners that are not borne of his own instincts; Polonius then tells his son "To thine own self be true" (1.2.78).This is exactly what Polonius has been advising his son not to do: he can’t seem to keep his mind on course long enough to complete a coherent and thoughtful idea. Further proof of his inability to finish a thought was revealed in his talk with Reynaldo when he says “sir, does 'a this- 'a does- What was I about to say? By the mass, I was about to say something! Where did I leave?” (2.1.49). Polonius even admits to himself his own fickleness, the fickleness of an old wayward mind. All fools must be somewhat funny as well. Polonius, although not very witty, makes comical observations such as when the first player is
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