Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: January ::
Re: Polonius Clan
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0123  Sunday, 21 January 2001

[1]     From:   Edward Pixley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Jan 2001 09:59:17 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0068 Re: Kent (now the Polonius clan)

[2]     From:   Brian Haylett <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 19 Jan 2001 16:48:31 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0104 Re: Polonius Clan


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Pixley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 16 Jan 2001 09:59:17 -0500
Subject: 12.0068 Re: Kent (now the Polonius clan)
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0068 Re: Kent (now the Polonius clan)

Paul Doniger wrote:

>This is the first opportunity we have to see
>how skilled and serious an advisor Polonius actually is (I have really
>gotten exceedingly tired of seeing Polonius played as a one-dimensional
>buffoon) , and it is important that we pay attention to what he is
>telling his son. The "endless proverbs" are actually quite true and
>useful, and the actor playing Laertes needs to listen to it attentively.

>Does anybody have any thoughts about this?

I have mixed feelings about what you've stated.

1. Certainly the proverbs are quite true, but, as you say, they are also
quite "endless," as though Polonius is trying to squeeze a lifetime of
advice into one speech, and, for this reason, lend themselves to
treatment that is less than respectful.

2. I question whether Laertes should be all that attentive to the advice
itself, since there is no evidence that he follows the advice.  In fact,
when Polonius later sends Reynaldo to Paris to spy on his son, he seems
to assume every likelihood that Laertes is not following his advice.

3. More importantly, the climactic bit of advice, "This above all, to
thine own self be true, and it shall follow as the night the day . . .
," is a piece of advice that Laertes does not follow, a failure that
results in his undoing, and for which he has to beg Hamlet's forgiveness
as he is dying.

4. But I fully agree that whatever comic byplay occurs must not
interfere with the audience's hearing the advice.  They must at least be
able to form their own judgments as to its wisdom and they must, above
all, hear that final bit of advice, but then the poet has, "above all,"
pointed it by placement and syntax to give it special emphasis.

Ed Pixley

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Haylett <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 19 Jan 2001 16:48:31 +0000
Subject: 12.0104 Re: Polonius Clan
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0104 Re: Polonius Clan

>Paul Doniger is right that "the 'endless proverbs' are actually quite
>true and useful,"

I would say they defy global categorization as true or false. 'To thine
own self be true', for instance, is a staple of various philosophies
down the ages, but 'Neither a borrower nor a lender be' seems cynical
and 'Costly thy habit' a flat contradiction of the Sermon on the Mount -
remember the lilies of the field.

Brian Haylett
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.