In Act I, scene iii of Hamlet, the character of Polonius prepares his son Laertes for travel abroad with a speech (ll.55-81) in which he directs the youth to commit a "few precepts to memory." Among these percepts is the now-familiar adage "neither a borrower nor a lender be" (l.75) and the dictum: "This above all: to thine own self be true,/And it must follow, as the night the day,/Thou cans't not be false to any man "(ll.78-80). The occasion of the speech has been established in advance, for in the previous scene, Polonius has told the King and Queen that he has granted his son...
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