At first glance the character, Polonius comes across as a nonsensical, dotty, rambling aged court fool who appears to be putting great interest in his children, Ophelia and Laertes lives. Readers may assume at first that his need to control and have power over his children is a benevolent attitude he has to take care of his children and their well-beings. This essay will be arguing that his foolishness is just pretence and that Polonius is in fact a manipulative character who seeks to look out for his own reputation and by showing authority over his children and controlling them he is able to ensure that his reputation is kept clean. This essay will be focusing on two scenes from the Hamlet movies and will be looking closely at the relationship of Polonius with his daughter and his son; this will demonstrate how desperate he was in ensuring that his reputation was kept clean. The best realization of Polonius would be that he is a manipulative and strategic man who seeks to look out for his means of a reputable reputation; this essay will be validating this point through the different scenes as well as the text.
The first time the readers are introduced to Polonius they are shown how with great reluctance and lots of “…laboursome petition…” (Shakespeare 1.2.59) allowed his son, Laertes to go to France. The first opinion is that Polonius is just like every other father who wants the best for his son but is hesitant for him to be away from home. However, one can conclude that it is more than Laertes being away from home that makes Polonius hesitant to send Laertes away but the fear of his reputation as he is unable to physically watch and keep an eye on Laertes everyday actions. This is shown in the text when Polonius and Laertes talk before he leaves for France. There Polonius gives Laertes ‘advice’ on how to behave in France, but forgets that Laertes is a grown man who is able to look after himself as well as act how he wishes. Polonius draws emphasis on the way Laertes needs to behave whilst being in France that he should “Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue, nor unproportioned thought his act. Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar…” (Shakespeare 1.3.59-61) It could be argued whether his advice was given to protect his son or whether it was to protect his reputation.
Just reading the text where Polonius gives Laertes advice, it would be very easy to conclude that he is giving his son words of wisdom in order to protect him but following that a few scenes later, Polonius is seen discussing with Reynaldo a plan for him to go to France to spy on Laertes and watch his behaviour. This just proves how Polonius is obsessed with the upkeep of his reputation and that he is in fact worried that if Laertes acts out in the wrong manner his reputation could be ruined. In the movie Hamlet, 1996, directed by Kenneth Brangagh, (00:51:17/04:02:12) the scene whereby Polonius and Reynaldo discuss the plan to spy on his son, we see how...