Act I, Scene 3:
The setting shifts to a room in Polonius’s house. Laertes is preparing to leave for France and is wishing his beautiful sister, Ophelia, farewell. He brings up Ophelia’s budding romance with Prince Hamlet and cautions her against pursuing the relationship further. Laertes reminds Ophelia that, as a prince, Hamlet’s will is not his own. While Hamlet may casually pursue a noblewoman like Ophelia, his marriage is a matter for the state. Given this reality, Laertes tells Ophelia that she must act cautiously and protect her virtue. Ophelia agrees to take this advice to heart, though she points out that Laertes has not exactly followed his own advice. Just then, Polonius enters and chastises Laertes for dawdling while the ship to France awaits. He then proceeds to impart several pieces of advice to Laertes. Polonius advises Laertes to think things through before acting, to remain faithful to his old friends while being wary of new friends, to listen to everyone’s opinions but keep his judgements to himself, to take care with his appearance, to neither borrow nor lend money, and, most importantly, to remain true to himself. Laertes departs after reminding Ophelia to remember his advice. Polonius asks Ophelia what Laertes told her, and she replies that he was giving her advice about Prince Hamlet. When questioned about the nature of her relationship with Hamlet, Ophelia admits that he has confessed his love for her. Agreeing with Laertes, Polonius tells his daughter not to take Hamlet’s words of love seriously and orders her to keep her distance. Ophelia dutifully agrees.
Act I, Scene 4:
Later that night, Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus stand outside the castle, waiting for the ghost to reappear. The men hear the sounds of trumpets and cannonfire, which Hamlet explains are from Claudius’s late-night carousing. Hamlet claims that this is a Danish custom that should be breached rather than observed, as it makes Denmark look foolish to other nations. Hamlet argues that just as the tiniest drop of evil can cast doubt on an otherwise-good character, Denmark’s many accomplishments are overshadowed by the perception that its nobles are drunkards. Suddenly, the ghost appears. Hamlet, unsure whether the ghost is friendly or malevolent, asks it to explain why it has come, and the ghost beckons him away from Marcellus and Horatio. They urge Hamlet not to follow it for fear that it may harm him in some way. Hamlet decides to follow the ghost, claiming that he does not value his life and that the ghost cannot harm his immortal soul. After Hamlet and the ghost leave, Marcellus and Horatio decide to follow him.
Act I, Scene 5:
When Hamlet and the ghost are alone, the ghost finally speaks. Claiming to be the spirit of Hamlet’s father, the ghost says that he wants Hamlet to “revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” The old king’s ghost reveals that he was not killed by a snake bite (as was reported) but by his brother, Claudius. Hamlet, his suspicions about Claudius confirmed, is appalled. The old king’s ghost tells Hamlet how Claudius secretly poured poison in his ear while he slept in the garden, stealing his life, his crown, and his wife. Killed before he had the chance to seek heavenly forgiveness, the old king is now being punished in the...
(The entire section is 1521 words.)
Esteban Pitre 8/27/11 ENC 1102 Literary Analysis: Hamlet Act I, Scene III Lines 55-80 In my attempt to read a small portion of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet I found myself perplexed. Laertes, the son of Polonius, is about to leave for France but warns his sister Ophelia to beware of Hamlet, the prince of Denmark. He fears that Hamlet may compromise her sexually and dishonor her. Ophelia harkens under her brother’s voice but mocks him and instructs him to practice what he preaches.
Polonius, the king of Denmark’s counselor, says his goodbyes to his son along with fatherly advice on how to conduct himself. Polonius is coaching Laertes on how to “act”, how to “seem”, and how to “show” himself publicly. As Laertes takes his leave Polonius also warns Ophelia against Hamlet. He believes that Hamlet’s interest in Ophelia is purely sexual, and bluntly orders her to have nothing more to do with him. Ophelia humbly promises to obey.
Polonius’ exclaims to Laertes in line 61-67: “Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar. Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel, but do not dull thy palm with entertainment of each new-hatched, unfledged courage. Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but being in, Bear ‘t that th’ opposed may beware of thee. ” Polonius lectures Laertes to hold his tongue and to hold his friends close to him, but not to take them for granted.
Furthermore, Laertes is told to beware of any fights with any one, and that no one should even dare to oppose him. Polonius’ final instruction to Laertes in lines 77-79, “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. ” Laertes is lastly told to be true to himself always (night and day). Most of what Polonius tells his son relates to etiquette, rather than ethical up until the last 3 lines. This worldly counsel includes thrift, moderation, prudence and so forth.