Ideology In Hamlet

1248 Words5 Pages
Eshan Kemp Mrs. Yuen AP Literature Period 1 On Polonius and Class Ideology The development of Polonius through his interactions with others serves as an aspect of Shakespeare’s Hamlet particularly suited for a Marxist analysis. While his pompous and long-winded ramblings have served as comic fodder for generations of readers, a Marxist reading reveals the insidious nature behind the text’s contempt for royal sycophancy. Polonius, who is of a lower-class status than the royal family, and who presumably lives during a feudal era which featured asymmetric distributions of wealth and power privileging the royalty and their allies, most probably regales figures of the royal family with circuitous servility to secure his survival as a member of a subordinate class. However, the text portrays Polonius’s incessantly pompous sycophantic tendencies as reflections of his, and in extension the noble class’s, inner character. Implicit in this portrayal is a classist ideology which ascribes inherent characteristics to lower classes, using these traits to justify the differential treatment of the classes. Hamlet uses Polonius’s initial interactions within a domestic setting and the royal court to establish Polonius’s character. When Polonius notarizes Reynaldo to spy on Laertes, Polonius lauds his method with such rhetorical flourishes as “wisdom and of reach” and “with windlasses and assays of bias,” to ensure that his ‘grand’ scheme is not lost on Reynaldo (2.1.61-62). The text chooses to show Polonius strutting such ornate rhetoric to commend himself, even when there is no one to impress beyond his own servant, to illustrate how Polonius is by his very nature pompous. When Polonius subsequently hears Ophelia relay her encounter with a deranged Hamlet, Polonius’s first instinct is to “go see the king,” rather than to comfort Ophelia beyond simply saying he’s sorry (2.1.114). Polonius’s primal instinct to serve his lord reveals a servile disposition baked into his very being. These intrinsic tendencies are hyperbolized through Polonius’s interaction with the royal family. Upon entering the court, Polonius immediately professes to “hold my duty … both to my God
Open Document