In Hamlet, what is the significance of Polonius' advice to Laertes in Act I Scene 3?

1 Answer | Add Yours

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

A lot of the meaning of this advice depends on how a director chooses to play Polonius in this scene. Is he presented as a loving, caring father who is genuinely wanting the best for his son, or is this a repetition of advice that Laertes has heard many a time before? Depending on how Polonius is shown to deliver these lines, he can be presented as a comic bore or a wise, loving father. However, it is always worth remembering the position of such scenes and which scenes they are placed next to. This touching scene of a father-son relationship highlights the way that Hamlet has been robbed of such intimacies by his father's untimely death. Likewise the fact that this scene comes straight after Act I scene ii, when Claudius tries to assume the role of Hamlet's father but then goes on to try and manipulate him to stop showing grief, emphasises the poor alternative of a father that Hamlet is left with. Lartes has a father who cares for him and loves him, as shown through the very sensible and wise advice offered. Hamlet, on the other hand, has an Uncle for a father who has disinherited him and married his mother swiftly after his father's death. What kind of a father figure is this to Hamlet? Thus, arguably, this scene through juxtaposition helps present the isolation of Hamlet in the mind of the audience.

We’ve answered 318,908 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question