Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Polonius and Ophelia - relationship

  1. #1

    Polonius and Ophelia - relationship

    I had to write an essay on the relationship between Polonius and Ophelia based on Act I scene 3. Here it is. Please make any comments you want and give it a mark out of 20 if you like. (please think high school when you mark :-))

    P.S. If you would like to write about the quality of Polonius' advice to Ophelia, do you assess the consequences that follow from it and whether it benefiited Ophelia?

    Although Polonius’ stakes in the Danish court are of prime importance to him, his actions reveal that he is also protective of her daughter Ophelia. Ophelia in turn is equally subservient to her father’s wishes. This indicates a strong bond in the father-daughter relationship.

    At the start of the passage, Polonius mentions that he does not approve of the ‘private time’ Hamlet has spent on Ophelia. He explains to Ophelia: ‘You do not understand yourself so clearly As it behooves my daughter and your honor’ - Polonius states that Ophelia is unaware how much her ‘free and bounteous’ attention to Hamlet is wrecking the social reputation of their family. Clearly, Polonius’ reputation in the court is one of his primary concerns. However, this does not imply that he has any less concern for the well-being of her daughter.

    When Ophelia discloses the nature of their relationship – that Hamlet has ‘made many tenders of his affection’ to her – he ridicules her revelation: ‘Affection! Pooh! You speak like a green girl’ and ‘think yourself a baby’. Evidently, Polonius considers her grown-up daughter to be immature and naïve. Polonius advises Ophelia to ‘tender’ herself ‘more dearly’ or else that she will ‘tender’ him ‘a fool’. Clearly, Polonius is simultaneously protective of her daughter and concerned about his status in the Danish court.
    This scornful attitude makes Ophelia defend her relationship: ‘he hath importuned me with love In honourable fashion and And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord, With almost all the holy vows of heaven.’ Although Ophelia fights to keep her relationship alive, she does so with the utmost politeness and respect for his father. His father however continues in his scornful tone and advises her ‘to be somewhat scanter of’ her ‘maiden presence ’ and to ‘set’ her ‘entreatments at a higher rate than a command to parle’ because Hamlet ‘is young and with a larger tether he may walk than may be given to’ Ophelia. This explanation demonstrates her genuine concern for Ophelia future well-being.

    Ophelia, in spite of her earlier strong but polite defence, has decided ‘to obey’ Polonius’ advice.

    All in all, Polonius considers her daughter immature and therefore is very protective of her. Ophelia herself is very loyal to her father and is willing to sacrifice even her love for the prince of Denmark to sustain that loyalty.

  2. #2
    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    trapped in a prologue.
    Posts
    2,383
    Blog Entries
    7
    Your connections between what Polonius says and the threat to his status at court are somewhat weak. There is no significant hint in this scene or in the play that Ophelia is doing anything to harm the relation between Polonius and Claudius. Polonius is as loyal to Claudius as he was presumably to Hamlet (the elder).

    Polonius is concerned for his daughter and his rejection of Hamlet lies with Hamlet himself (not the implications to his career). Then there is of course the notion of Polonius being too controlling of his daughter (and son). He must govern every aspect of his children's lives. This is why he gives Laertes the very specific advice. This is why he sends Reynaldo to spy on Laertes (2.1). This is why he sets Ophelia up as if she were a prop in order to spy on Hamlet (3.1). Polonius exists between puppeteer (or director) and caring parent. There is nothing that says he does not love his children - but he does not really regard them as people but more investments (as was common at the time (and still is?))

    An interesting parallel to consider in this relationship is between Polonius/Ophelia and Hamlet/Hamlet (the elder).
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

  3. #3
    There's no doubt Ophelia loves her father; she loses her sanity when her father dies. But in the context of the entire play you have to question Polonius' motive for being so overly protective of Ophelia. Why is he against his daughter making a match with the Prince of Denmark? I say it's because Polonius knows that with Claudius in charge that Hamlet's future isn't as bright as it could be.

    Your argument is fine insofar as grammar and coherence are concerned.

  4. #4
    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    trapped in a prologue.
    Posts
    2,383
    Blog Entries
    7
    Quote Originally Posted by My2cents View Post
    There's no doubt Ophelia loves her father; she loses her sanity when her father dies. But in the context of the entire play you have to question Polonius' motive for being so overly protective of Ophelia. Why is he against his daughter making a match with the Prince of Denmark? I say it's because Polonius knows that with Claudius in charge that Hamlet's future isn't as bright as it could be.

    Your argument is fine insofar as grammar and coherence are concerned.
    For Lord Hamlet,
    Believe so much in him, that he is young
    And with a larger tender may he walk
    Than may be given you.
    Do not believe his vows, for they are brokers,
    Not of that dye which their investments show
    (I.iii)

    prior to this quote, Polonius quarrel is that Ophelia is too young and rash and willing to give herself too cheaply.

    The suggestion is that Polonius is adverse to young lust (both in his children and in Hamlet)....suggesting that if you replace Hamlet with let's say Horatio, the conversation between Polonius and Ophelia would be the same.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

  5. #5
    It's hard to argue that Polonius was loyal to the elder Hamlet when he's so suspicious of the younger Hamlet's motive in courting his daughter. It would've been good policy to serve the elder Hamlet faithfully, and considering how ingratiating he is to Claudius I'm sure Polonius at least tried to be likewise with the elder Hamlet.

    The thing about Polonius is that he's as blind as a bat and stubborn as a mule. To the very end he thinks Hamlet's state of mental unease has to do with his having ended Hamlet's and Ophelia's relationship. It's hard to take the seemingly sage words of someone like that seriously.

  6. #6
    I'm wondering if you wanna write about the quality of poloniu's advice, would you likely assess the consequences that follow, i.e. whether the advice does good to Ophelia or not?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by failexam View Post
    I'm wondering if you wanna write about the quality of poloniu's advice, would you likely assess the consequences that follow, i.e. whether the advice does good to Ophelia or not?
    I'd say no because, having separated the two by giving the advice and believing that to be the cause of Hamlet's mental unease, Polonius repeatedly spies on Hamlet to confirm his suspicions, which gets himself killed, which in turn gets his daughter killed.

    But the advice in and of itself can't be faulted as they're words any father might say regarding his daughter, meaning that Polonius' motive has to be at fault.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by My2cents View Post
    I'd say no because, having separated the two by giving the advice and believing that to be the cause of Hamlet's mental unease, Polonius repeatedly spies on Hamlet to confirm his suspicions, which gets himself killed, which in turn gets his daughter killed.

    But the advice in and of itself can't be faulted as they're words any father might say regarding his daughter, meaning that Polonius' motive has to be at fault.
    So, just to clarify, you're saying that if we judge the quality of his advice based on what happens afterwards, we come to the conclusion that it was poor. However, in and of itself, the advice was good as that's what any parent might have said to her daughter. Right?

Similar Threads

  1. Hamlet, ophelia and polonius
    By billwic in forum Hamlet
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 12-19-2011, 02:33 AM
  2. Replies: 8
    Last Post: 10-20-2009, 08:47 AM
  3. What's eating Polonius?
    By Ray Eston Smith in forum Hamlet
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 02-02-2009, 08:18 PM
  4. hamlets treatment of ophelia
    By rhishabh.jetley in forum Hamlet
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 06-05-2007, 07:55 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •