Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.




Polonius, Lord Chamberlain

[This is an annotated list of all appearances and all mentions of Polonius.]
Oliver Ford Davies as Polonius

Polonius behind the curtain by Jehan Georges Vibert

Bill Murray as Polonius

Felix Aylmer as Polonius

Eric Porter as Polonius



"He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave" (1.2.58). Polonius tells the King that he has given his son permission to return to France. [Scene Summary]

"Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for shame" (1.3.55). Polonius says goodbye to Laertes and gives him a lot of worldly advice. Then he demands to know what Laertes said to Ophelia, and when she tells him, he orders her to stop seeing Hamlet. [Scene Summary]

"Give him this money and these notes, Reynaldo" (2.1.1). Polonius sends Reynaldo to spy on Laertes. In the second half of the scene, Ophelia reports Hamlet's strange visit to her, and Polonius rushes off to tell the King that Hamlet is mad for the love of Ophelia. [Scene Summary]

"I have found / The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy" (2.2.48-49), Polonius announces. After he ushers in the ambassadors with good news from Norway, he goes on at length about what he thinks he knows about Hamlet's love-madness. Then Hamlet wanders in and Polonius questions him, to see just how crazy he is. [Scene Summary]

"that great baby you see there is not yet out of his swaddling-clouts" (2.2.382-383). This is how Hamlet describes Polonius to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, as Polonius comes to tell them that the players have arrived. [Scene Summary]

"'Tis most true, / And he beseech'd me to entreat your Majesties / To hear and see the matter" (3.1.21-23), says Polonius, about Hamlet wanting to see a play. Later in the scene, he and the King hide and spy on Hamlet as he's talking to Ophelia. [Scene Summary]

"And the queen too, and that presently" (3.2.48), says Polonius, in response to Hamlet's question about whether the King is ready to see The Murder of Gonzago. "It [a cloud] is backed like a weasel" (3.2.380) he says near the end of the scene, as he is trying to humor Hamlet. [Scene Summary]

"My lord, he's going to his mother's closet" (3.3.27), says Polonius, during a brief appearance in which he announces he will go to overhear what Hamlet has to say to his mother. [Scene Summary]

"He will come straight. Look you lay home to him" (3.4.1), Polonius instructs the Queen, at the opening of the scene in her closet, during which Hamlet kills Polonius. Towards the end of the scene Hamlet comments that "Indeed this counsellor / Is now most still, most secret and most grave, / Who was in life a foolish prating knave" (3.4.213-215). Then he drags the "guts" out. [Scene Summary]

Hamlet, "in this brainish apprehension, kills / The unseen good old man" (4.1.11-12), the Queen explains to the King. [Scene Summary]

"Compounded it with dust, whereto 'tis kin" (4.2.6), Hamlet answers when Rosencrantz asks him what he's done with Polonius' body. Hamlet's answer is an insulting way of saying that he's buried the body. [Scene Summary]

"O, this is the poison of deep grief; it springs / All from her father's death" (4.5.75-76), the King says about mad Ophelia. When she's passing out flowers, she says, "I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died" (4.5.183-186), and some of her songs seem to be about her father's death. [Scene Summary]

"And so have I a noble father lost" (4.7.25), says Laertes in the scene in which he and the King plot revenge against Hamlet. Later in the scene, the King asks Laertes, "Laertes, was your father dear to you? / Or are you like the painting of a sorrow, / A face without a heart? (4.7.107-109). However, the King doesn't really give Laertes a chance to answer that question, and Polonius is not really a subject of discussion in the scene. [Scene Summary]

"I am very sorry, good Horatio, / That to Laertes I forgot myself; / For, by the image of my cause, I see / The portraiture of his: I'll court his favours" (5.2.75-78). Thus, in the last scene of the play, Hamlet speaks of the fact that both he and Laertes have lost their fathers. Later in the scene Hamlet more or less apologizes for the "wrong" that he has done Laertes, which is presumably killing Polonius, although Polonius is not mentioned. Hamlet explains that he only did it because he was "mad." Laertes replies, "I am satisfied in nature, / Whose motive, in this case, should stir me most / To my revenge: but in my terms of honour / I stand aloof" (5.2.244-247). Thus Laertes more or less accepts the apology. [Scene Summary]