1 Answer | Add Yours
In Shakespeare's Hamlet, there are several parts I enjoy. Gertrude's response to Polonius' rambling in Act Two, scene two, is the kind of thing that loses nothing to time: she says stop trying to impress me with words and tell me what you really mean. This is important to her because she wants to know what is wrong with her son (Hamlet).
More matter, with less art. (line 102)
I also enjoy following Polonius' nonsensical speech. Trying to follow his thoughts is like trying to find one's way in a maze: his ideas run in circles. The first segment of Polonius' speech to try to explain why Hamlet is acting strangely is as follows, where he questions what it is like to be a king and why day and night are the way they are. He then makes a astute observation ("Brevity is the soul of wit"), which he then proceeds to ignore—it's about being brief (something lost on Polonius). Finally, he bluntly states that Hamlet is crazy, but then philosophically (and foolishly) explains that madness is being mad, which once again, makes no sense.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.
Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is't but to be nothing else but mad? (lines 93-100)
When Gertrude scolds Polonius for using words to impress, he denies it by saying he is using no "art" at all. This is true: he is not even skillful in his use of words: they are empty of meaning. Further bumbling follows: Polonius repeats that Hamlet is mad. He says that it's true that it's a pity that he's mad, and a pity that it's true. This, again shows the "advisor" making little sense. At this point, I would expect both King and Queen to be discouraged with his failure in helping them understand Hamlet's strange behavior. He says again that Hamlet is crazy, then starts playing games with the words "effect," "cause," and "defect."
A reader or member of an audience can see through Polonius rather clearly. There is little chance that he will be mistaken for a genius. It is entertaining to try to follow his speech, which he takes so very seriously himself, but leaves the listener wondering what he is thinking.
We’ve answered 319,180 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question