Old JepthathWhat characters and persons does Hamlet allude to in 2.2.405-490 and what is his purpose in flinging this references at Polonious? 

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When I taught Sunday school, one of my favorite lessons was about sacrifice, and I would compare Abraham to Jephthah. God told Abraham to take his son Isaac and sacrifice him to the Lord. Although it broke his heart, Abraham obeyed, and God stopped him before he completed the act. On the other hand, Jephthah made an unbidden vow that if God would help him defeat his enemy, he would sacrifice the first thing he laid his eyes upon when he returned home. Jephthah was used to his dog's running out to greet him, but this time, his daughter was the first thing he saw. He tore his clothes and more or less said, "Look what you've made me do!" But his daughter told him he couldn't go back on a promise to God. She asked for time to go into the mountains and pray.

Abraham did what God wanted him to do. Jephthah wanted God to do what Jephthah wanted, and he ended up paying dearly for it.

malibrarian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sounds to me like we have yet another example of Hamlet insulting Polonius and Polonius having absolutely no clue what is happening.  He thinks Hamlet is just obsessed with Ophelia, thus the madness - he says in an aside: "Still on my daughter."  But Hamlet is actually telling him he's a big jerk because he's sending his daughter like a lamb to the slaughter.