Hamlet Details Polonius advises his children by the use of axioms. He explains to Ophelia want not to do. He also tells his son Laertes what to do. The problem with this is he does not monitor his own actions. Shakespeare shows a great example of this is Hamlet. It is interesting how the advice changes from male to female, and how it changes in everyday life.
Polonius tells Laertes, his son, that he should be a true gentleman. He talks about not fighting, yet if in a fight to win, look rich and not gaudy, and “do not dull thy palm with entertainment of each new-hatched, unfledged courage.” (1.3.70-1) This basically means that Polonius would rather his son to stay out of trouble and control himself to keep the family name in good respect. Polonius pronounces to Laertes that he must not allow his self to borrow from others, or others to borrow from him. This is strange because everyone needs someone else to rely on in times of need. Poloniuss greatest piece of advice is “to thine own self be true”.
(1.3.84) This talks of how Laertes must tell the truth, be kind, and respect others. This is so Laertes is proud of himself and so others will respect Laertes. This will allow Laertes to focus on his studies and not so much on trying to fit in. “Thou canst not then be false to any man” is the last axiom given to Laertes by Polonius. This says lying is bad.
This is important to Laertes because if he lies he will not have honor. The loss of honor results in no respect to get a job. That would condemn Laertes to a struggle to survive. Polonius talks much different to Ophelia, his daughter, than he did to Laertes, his son. Polonius from the start says that Hamlet is bad and is trying to just get with her. He tells her not to get caught up the moment. When Polonius says, “Have of your audience been most free and bounteous..” he explaining to Ophelia that he does not trust her and that she must watch to see the groups that she runs with.
(1.3.101-2) He continues to say, “As it behooves my daughter and your honor”, which tells us that if Hamlet and Ophelia keep together then results may be bad. (1.3.106) He is saying that she should stay away from Hamlet. Polonius tells Ophelia to stay away from Hamlet, yet earlier he tells Laertes to basically do what he wants, just not to make someone mad or cause trouble. The difference in the two speeches is that when he talks to Laertes, he knows he is unable to do anything to stop him, but he wants to try. Then when he yells at Ophelia, he knows she must listen and follow the directions given or Polonius will find out. This is because Laertes is going to France to complete schooling, and Ophelia is here in Denmark with Hamlet.
The other reason behind this is that Ophelia is the daughter of Polonius. That makes her special because she must marry to carry on the family. She is daddys little girl. That gives them a special bond causing them to be close, so Polonius wants to be careful of what happens to her. This special bond between the father and daughter close is still around.
These days the boy is told not to get caught, and girls are just to make sure they protect themselves. The advice now is the same kind of advice given here in Hamlet. The young Ladies must stay pure, while the men must keep the name in good standings. The advice given is different to meet the times. Parents stress that abstinence is the way to go, but no matter to use protection. Back in those days protection was not the same.
They had a different message for the times; it was about the losing of face by sexual intercourse. For the gentlemen, the advice given is to do what you want just do not get caught. This is different than in the past. In the past you should not do it because it makes you look bad. Now, no one really cares and people do what they want to.
Back in Shakespeares times the drugs were not around as they are now. Now everyone does drugs it seems like. Polonius had a good idea in grilling his kids. More people should do that to create morals. It is interesting how the advice changes from male to female, and how it changes in everyday life.
Remember some of your actions are permanent and cannot be fixed.