Hamlet's Philosophy: Polonius' DeathAnalyze Hamlet's own philosophic view, in terms of his goal of revenge, and in terms of today's moral standards in the killing of Polonius scene.Is his action...

Hamlet's Philosophy: Polonius' Death

Analyze Hamlet's own philosophic view, in terms of his goal of revenge, and in terms of today's moral standards in the killing of Polonius scene.Is his action justifiable and practical?

Asked on by lovelisa

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gbeatty's profile pic

gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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An interesting and complex set of answers. There is no real coherent philosophical position articulated in this scene. Hamlet does not fully justify his positions. Nor does he lay out reasons for them. He is in the grip of passions, and he acts. If we were constructing a philosophy for him in this scene, we'd have to suggest something like a blend of pragmatism and the great chain of being; things have their proper order, brothers should not kill brothers, but princes may kill lesser beings.

 

Is his action justifiable? No. Is it practical? No. Is it understandable? Sure. Who hasn't been in the grip of passion. I suspect it would be called manslaughter today.

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

Hamlet appears to feel justified in his killing of Polonius referring to it as a mistake because he thought Polonius was Claudius, "I took thee for thy better."  Since Hamlet's goal since the first act has been to seek revenge against Claudius for murdering his father, he feels that mistaking Polonius for Claudius is a legitimate excuse for killing Polonius.  He also justifies his act by saying that Polonius brought about his own death because he was being nosy, "Take thy fortune. / Thou finds't to be too busy is some danger." 

In today's moral standards, Hamlet would be convicted of murder because mistaking one person for another is not justifiable since people aren't supposed to take the law into their own hands like a vigilante.  The second excuse that Hamlet gives might be justifiable in today's courts of law.

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