Describe Hamlet's behavior towards Polonius.

Hamlet's behavior towards Polonius lacks respect or reverence because of Polonius's close proximity to Claudius. Hamlet arguably uses Polonius's self-absorbed nature to further his own plans of appearing increasingly mentally unstable.

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Hamlet treats Polonius with contempt because Polonius is a sycophant and a meddler. The older man's motivations center around gaining favor in high places. He tries to present the love of Ophelia as the root of Hamlet's madness, perhaps in the hope that the king will order the two to marry, thereby granting Polonius a higher position in the court. He spies on Hamlet for Claudius as well, making him an enemy of the prince by association.

Hamlet is all too aware of Polonius's motives, so he insults Polonius to his face. He calls him a "fishmonger" in reference to his attempts to meddle in royal affairs (and perhaps in reference to his treatment of Ophelia as a pawn in his social schemes) and "dishonest" in reference to his spying on Hamlet for Claudius. He also plays around with Polonius in a rather comical manner while pretending to be mad, asking him if he has a daughter and changing his answers to Polonius's questions on a moment's notice. Even after he accidentally kills Polonius, Hamlet's deadly mistake does not appear to bother him on a moral level. He calls Polonius a fool and then unceremoniously goes about hiding the body at the end of the scene.

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Polonius is the father of Ophelia, whom Hamlet has recently been in a relationship with. Unfortunately, Hamlet is also aware of Polonius's close relationship with Claudius, which makes Hamlet distrust the man. As Hamlet tries to determine whether the ghost claiming to be his father has told him the truth, he views Polonius with increasing skepticism and scorn because of his proximity to Claudius.

Hamlet arguably pretends to be going mad in order to further his own plans. Aware that Polonius is watching his every move, Hamlet uses the old man to heighten his own sense of unpredictability. In act 2, scene 2, he asks Polonius whether he has a daughter; Hamlet clearly knows the answer to this question because he has been in a relationship with Ophelia. He then blatantly calls Polonius a dishonest man; Polonius is so concerned with assessing Hamlet's mental state that he doesn't defend himself. After Polonius exits the scene, Hamlet utters, "These tedious old fools!" (2.2.231), revealing that he has been toying with Polonius's egotistical nature throughout their conversation.

Although Hamlet doesn't like Polonius, he certainly doesn't mean to kill him in act 3, scene 4. Unfortunately, Polonius is in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Hamlet believes that it is Claudius who is hiding in Gertrude's chamber. He doesn't show much remorse for this mistake, but his ultimate target in that murderous act was not Polonius. Hamlet doesn't respect Polonius, but he doesn't plot to murder him, either.

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As was mentioned in the previous post, Hamlet does not respect or admire Polonius throughout the play. He believes that Polonius is an old fool. In Act Two, Scene 2, Hamlet disrespects Polonius to his face by calling him a fishmonger and refuses to answer him directly throughout their conversation. Hamlet continually...

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throws verbal jabs at Polonius whenever they have a discussion. Hamlet even makes fun of Polonius's age throughout the conversation, but Polonius is too dumb to realize that he is being ridiculed. When Polonius leaves the scene, Hamlet calls him a tedious old fool.

Hamlet does not respect Polonius, because he is friends with King Claudius and acts like an idiot. Hamlet continually makes fun of Polonius to his face. When Hamlet asks Polonius if he participated as an amateur actor, Polonius proudly says that he played the role of Julius Caesar. After Polonius recounts that his character was stabbed at the Capitol, Hamlet responds by saying, "It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there" (Shakespeare, 3.2.98). In Act Three, Scene 4, Hamlet accidentally murders Polonius, who was eavesdropping behind a curtain. After he discovers that he has killed Polonius, Hamlet says,

"Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell. I took thee for thy better. Take thy fortune. Thou find’st to be too busy is some danger" (Shakespeare, 3.4.32-34).

Clearly, Hamlet does not care about Polonius and views him with contempt.

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Hamlet thinks Polonius is a buffoon who talks to much and is trying to foist his daughter on Hamlet. He never loses an opportunity to make fun of the king's closest advisor. He calls him a "fish monger" ( or pimp), compares him to Jepthah, an old Testament judge who sacrificed his own daughter, and generally plays him for a fool. When Polonius asks Hamlet what he is reading, Hamlet replies "words". Hamlet claims he sees things in the clouds just to get Polonius to foolishly go along with him. In addition, he tries to embarrass Polonius in front of the crowd gathered to see "The Murder of Gonzago", Hamlet points out that Polonius acted in Julius Caesar and his character was killed in the capitol. This is obviously a veiled threat to Polonius and actually foreshadows his death in Elsinore, the capitol of Denmark. After Hamlet kills Polonius, he calls him a "prating nave" or fool. He leaves Polonius' body lying in a pool of blood throughout his confrontation with his mother and then unceremoniously grabs him and hides his body. Hamlet obviously does not care for or respect Polonius.

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What was Hamlet's overall behavior toward Polonius?

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Hamlet seems to be an excellent judge of character, and he finds Polonius wanting of any.

He is flippant and sarcastic and insulting when dealing with Polonius.  He is also grotesque with his imagery when talking to or about Polonius.

For instance, in Act 2.2 Hamlet enters the stage reading a book.  Polonius quickly urges Claudius and Gertrude off the stage so that he can "board" Hamlet, approach him and determine if his theory of why Hamlet is mad is accurate.

Repeatedly in the work, others think they can "play" Hamlet, so to speak.  They think they can talk to him and manipulate him and determine his motivations, etc.  Polonius tries this here.

Hamlet plays Polonius instead, figuratively disarming him with his opening remark: are a fishmonger.  (Act 2.2.173)

When Polonius denies this, Hamlet answers that then he wishes Polonius were as honest man, for honest men are as one in 10,000 in the world.  This seems to be an indication that Hamlet knows Polonius is, in a sense, spying on him, and seems to be a verbal slam against Polonius for attempting to do so.

Hamlet then changes the subject again, twice in one sentence, actually, while, apparently, reading from the book he is carrying:

For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god kissing carrion--Have you a daughter?  (Act 2.2.180-181)

This is an allusion, I believe, to the scientific observation and mistaken belief that maggots could spring to life out of the carcasses of dead things.  The grotesque imagery is intended as a reflection on Polonius, of course.

Hamlet then proceeds to insult Polonius's daughter, supposedly summarize nasty things the book he is reading says about old men (which Polonius is), and tell Polonius, when Polonius says he will take his leave from Hamlet, that there is nothing Hamlet would rather part with.

In short, Hamlet's behavior toward Polonius is insulting and provocative.  And what Hamlet thinks of Polonius can be seen in numerous instances in the play, but perhaps no where better than where he tells Claudius the location of Polonius's body:

Not where he eats, but where a' is eaten.  A certain convocation of politic worms ar e'en at him.  (Act 4.3.19,20)

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