The Deceptive Character of Polonius in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

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The Deceptive Character of Polonius in William Shakespeare's Hamlet

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!". This quote by
Sir Walter Scott has been heard around the world, translated into many languages, and repeated to us by parents, teachers, and our peers. What does it truly mean? Humans create major and possibly chaotic problems when trying to beguile others. This quote not only applies to one person affecting another, but also how the actions of one person trying to deceive many people through double-talk or hypocrisy lead to complex and sometimes unresolveable events. The character Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet fits the description of one who tries to deceive others by wearing
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(Hamlet II, iii 65-86, Shakespeare)”
Polonius does an exceptional job of providing good morals for his son to live by, but then displays his first act of hypocrisy by judging Hamlet in front of Ophelia just a few lines later by saying “Do not believe his vows, for they are brokers, not of that dye which their investments show, but mere implorators of unholy suits, breathing like sanctified and pious bawds the better to beguile” (II. iii
136-140). He later speaks with Reynaldo and asks him to spy on his son, while still assuming the authoritative figure he displayed to Laertes and Ophelia. Polonius seems incapable of acting in an honest manner. His actions are reminiscent of a hunter's job; using all his wit to uncover the unwary prey in a roundabout way. He even uses hunters' terminology. "Windlasses" (II. i. 72) means an indirect approach in hunting. He talks of the "bait of falsehood" (II. i. 70), being dishonest to the "prey", Laertes, and even to the people who are to help him catch the "prey", the acquaintances. Polonius wants to catch "the carp of truth". This topic is echoed later on when
Hamlet calls Polonius a "fishmonger". His methods of finding out the truth suggest that Polonius is not concerned about Laertes’ well-being; rather Polonius is worried how Laertes is making him look. Polonius has an inclination toward cynicism and suspicion of

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