Hamlet

Polonius Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
The Lord Chamberlain of Denmark, and the father of Laertes and Ophelia, whom he loves deeply and wishes to protect, even to the point of spying on them. Polonius is pompous and long-winded, and has a propensity to scheme, but without Hamlet's or Claudius's skill. He is very aware of his position and role, and is always careful to try to be on the good side of power.

Polonius Quotes in Hamlet

The Hamlet quotes below are all either spoken by Polonius or refer to Polonius. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Hamlet published in 1992.
Act 1, scene 3 Quotes
This above all — to thine own self be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Related Characters: Polonius (speaker), Laertes
Page Number: 1.3.84-86
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi u

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Hamlet quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Act 2, scene 2 Quotes
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief.
Related Characters: Polonius (speaker)
Page Number: 2.2.97-99
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Get the entire Hamlet LitChart as a printable PDF.
Hamlet.pdf.medium

Polonius Character Timeline in Hamlet

The timeline below shows where the character Polonius appears in Hamlet. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 2
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Claudius turns to Laertes, the son of the Lord Chamberlain, Polonius. Laertes asks to be allowed to return to his studies in France. Claudius agrees. (full context)
Act 1, scene 3
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Polonius enters, scolds his son for taking so long, then immediately starts giving him long-winded advice... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Polonius asks Ophelia what she was talking about with Laertes. Ophelia answers: Hamlet. After Polonius asks... (full context)
Act 2, scene 1
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Polonius sends his servant Reynaldo to Paris to give Laertes some money and letters, but also... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Polonius concludes that Hamlet has gone mad with love because, on Polonius's orders, Ophelia stopped speaking... (full context)
Act 2, scene 2
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Polonius enters and says that he has figured out the cause of Hamlet's lunacy. But, first,... (full context)
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Polonius returns with the ambassadors. They report that the King of Norway rebuked Fortinbras, who promised... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
After a long-winded ramble about Hamlet's madness, Polonius reads love letters Hamlet sent to Ophelia. Claudius and Gertrude agree that lovesickness may be... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Poison, Corruption, Death Theme Icon
Hamlet enters, reading. The King and Queen leave Polonius alone to talk with him. Polonius speaks with Hamlet, who responds with statements about pregnancy,... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Polonius enters with the players. Hamlet mocks Polonius, but greets the players warmly. He asks the... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Hamlet tells Polonius to treat the players well and give them good lodgings, and privately asks the First... (full context)
Act 3, scene 1
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
...to watch the play. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exit. Gertrude leaves as well, since Claudius and Polonius have chosen this moment to set up the "accidental" meeting between Hamlet and Ophelia. (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Polonius tells Ophelia to walk in the courtyard as if reading a book. He muses that... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Claudius, struck by Polonius's words, mutters an aside about a "deed" that his "painted words" (3.1.52) can't hide from... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Polonius still thinks Hamlet loves Ophelia. He requests that after the play Hamlet be sent to... (full context)
Act 3, scene 2
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia, and others arrive to watch the play. Hamlet tells Horatio he's now going to... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
...using the word "fare" to mean food, and says he's eating the air. Hamlet mocks Polonius's attempts to act at university, harasses Ophelia with sexual puns, then makes bitter remarks about... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Polonius enters, repeating Gertrude's request to see him. Hamlet pretends to see odd shapes in a... (full context)
Act 3, scene 3
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Polonius enters with news: Hamlet is headed to Gertrude's room, where Polonius will hide behind a... (full context)
Act 3, scene 4
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Polonius and Gertrude wait for Hamlet in Gertrude's chamber. Polonius advises her to be tough with... (full context)
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
From his hiding place behind the tapestry Polonius hears Gertrude's cry and calls for help. Hamlet, mistaking Polonius for Claudius, stabs Polonius through... (full context)
Women Theme Icon
...marry with his brother" (3.4.29). Gertrude is shocked. Hamlet pulls back the tapestry and sees Polonius. He dismisses him as a "rash, intruding fool" (3.4.32). (full context)
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Hamlet exits, dragging Polonius's body after him. (full context)
Act 4, scene 1
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
...that Gertrude is upset. She says Hamlet was acting insane, and in his madness killed Polonius. (full context)
Act 4, scene 2
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Poison, Corruption, Death Theme Icon
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern find Hamlet. They ask where Polonius's body is. Hamlet responds in riddles and insults—he calls Rosencrantz a "sponge" soaking up the... (full context)
Act 4, scene 3
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Claudius mulls how to deal with Hamlet. The killing of Polonius has convinced him that Hamlet is too dangerous to remain nearby, but at the same... (full context)
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Poison, Corruption, Death Theme Icon
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern enter with Hamlet. Claudius asks where Polonius is. Hamlet answers that Polonius is feeding worms. He explains that a dead king will... (full context)
Act 4, scene 5
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
Gertrude and Horatio sadly discuss the madness that has taken over Ophelia since Polonius was killed. Ophelia enters, singing mournful songs about her father. (full context)
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Claudius mentions that the commoners are also angry about Polonius's death, and that Laertes has secretly sailed back to Denmark. A messenger rushes in with... (full context)
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
...exclaims that the mob and Laertes are blaming the wrong person for the death of Polonius. (full context)
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
...dare damnation just to get revenge for the death of his father. Claudius admits that Polonius is dead. Gertrude adds that Claudius did not kill him. (full context)
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Claudius asks Laertes to let him explain what happened to Polonius, and promises to hand over the crown to Laertes if, after the explanation, his actions... (full context)
Act 4, scene 7
Action and Inaction Theme Icon
Appearance vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion, Honor, and Revenge Theme Icon
Alone with Claudius, Laertes asks why Claudius didn't punish Hamlet for killing Polonius. Claudius answers: First, he loves Gertrude and she's Hamlet's mother; second, Hamlet is loved by... (full context)