Hamlet by William Shakespeare Essay

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The transition of royalty from King Hamlet to King Claudius seemed smooth, but the tension within the royal family created some complications. Almost all of Denmark gave their loyalty to a new king without any suspicion as to how the previous ruler died. Although Denmark’s citizens are unaware of the fratricide, this fickle faithfulness exemplifies the social and moral decay of Denmark. Most of Denmark’s subjects act upon their own selfish interests and lack any conviction. Shakespeare uses Polonius, formerly a loyal servant to King Hamlet, as a microcosm of Denmark’s oblivious and hypocritical society as a whole. The Lord Chamberlain of Claudius’s court and the father of Laertes and Ophelia, Polonius has good intentions, but he tends to …show more content…

If he were a true Christian, he would not be pledging his allegiance to a murderer. Moreover, Polonius places his own gain in front of his children’s happiness. Before his son Laertes leaves for France, Polonius gives him a long list of advice. Although the guidance is helpful, it is filled with cliches which lessen the value of his speech. Telling him to hold on to old friends and be slow to trust new ones, Polonius says, “Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel; but do not dull thy palm with entertainment of each new-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade” (1.3.68-71). Ironically, Polonius himself is going against his own principles by dutifully serving the new king and has practically forgotten King Hamlet. Hypocritically, he later adds, “This above all: to thine own self be true” (1.3.84). After Laertes has spent some time in France, Polonius reaches out to his servant Reynaldo and asks him to ruin his son’s reputation After what seemed to be genuine fatherly instructions to Laertes on how to become a better man, Polonius goes behind his back to slander against him. Hy slyly plots with Reynaldo and tells him to “breathe his faults so quaintly that they may seem the taints of liberty, the flash and outbreak of a fiery mind, a savageness in unreclaimed blood, of general assault” (2.1.31-34). He hopes that Laertes will be so disliked that he will be forced to return to Denmark.

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