In act 1, scene 3, of Hamlet, what is Polonius's advice to Laertes?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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As Laertes sets off for France, Polonius peppers him with advice. This includes worldly advice fit for a courtier's son: dress as well (expensively) as you can, but in good, subdued taste; listen more than you talk; keep your opinions to yourself; be friendly but not too friendly. All of this has to do with the image you project and how you project and protect yourself. Polonius wants his son to be careful about the external face he shows to people.

Other, more heartfelt advice includes not borrowing or lending money and holding the true and tested friends you have made very close, or, as Polonius puts it:

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel

The image of attaching a close friend to one's soul with hoops of steel shows the importance of a true friend. Polonius also ends his advice with heartfelt words that address issues deeper than mere surface appearance:

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

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In act 1, scene 3, Laertes is permitted to return to France to continue his education and his father, Polonius, offers him advice in the form of lengthy platitudes in hopes that Laertes will be successful and conduct himself in a decorous manner while he is out of the country.

Polonius begins by encouraging his son to keep his thoughts to himself and to not act without thinking. Polonius then tells his son to be friendly to people but not too kind and urges him to hold onto trustworthy friends. He also encourages his son to not go out of his way to shake everyone's hand or pick fights.

Polonius tells his son, "Give every man thy ear but few thy voice," which means Laertes should listen more and talk less (1.3.69). He proceeds to tell his son to...

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