Summary: Polonius and His Manipulative Behavior

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In society today, the tool of manipulation is used at every chance given in order to get what is wanted rather than needed. Due to this, everyone has a specific way to go about using this smart yet dangerous tool. In William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, Polonius is one that uses this skill of being able to manipulate to his advantage. He is able to easily use his manipulative skills on other characters, such as Hamlet and Claudius, because they are preoccupied with other tasks. Polonius is proven to be a manipulator because of the fact that he deceives and spies on others, uses his intelligence to get others to trust him, and by using and controlling his daughter’s life.

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Polonius’s first proves himself as manipulative when he assigns his servant, Reynaldo, to keep an eye on his son, Laertes, while he is away in France. Along with having Reynaldo spy on Laertes, he also wants him to spread rumors about him that will ruin his reputation to bring out his son’s true colors. “See you now/Your bait of falsehood take this carp of truth/And thus do we of wisdom and of reach/With windlasses and with assays of bias/By indirections find directions out,”. When Polonius is saying this, he makes sure that he is precise with his words to let Reynaldo know what he expects out of him. With this, Reynaldo now knows that he is to take this order and run with it the best that he can in a subtle manner. Furthermore, this is the first of many more times to come that Polonius makes it known to the reader that he is indeed manipulating for the sake of helping only himself out.

To portray his manipulative behavior, Polonius uses Ophelia and ultimately controls her life choices. From this, Polonius distinctly tells Ophelia that she is to stop all communication with Hamlet in attempts to finally end her relationship with him. “Indeed, it would be difficult to picture Polonius allowing Ophelia (whom he does not even grant the freedom of choosing her own boyfriend) to travel abroad on her own,” . This further goes on to say that Polonius wants to make all decisions regarding his daughter and take away her ability to make decisions on her own, knowing she will follow whatever her father wants.

Finally, Polonius uses his advantage of intelligence in order to get people to trust him and to retain information as a way of manipulation. The tactic Polonius uses is that he portrays himself as foolish to his colleagues, but in reality he is quite brilliant. This key point also touches on a theme displayed throughout the book so far: appearance versus reality.

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