What Advice Does Polonius Give Laertes?

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius is the father of Laertes and Ophelia, as well as the Lord Chamberlain and the right-hand man of Claudius. At the beginning of Act I Scene III, Laertes has been given permission by Claudius to go to school in France, and Polonius enters the scene to offer his advice. He starts off by emphasizing the importance of character, and that it should be reflected in one’s thoughts, words, and deeds. He then goes on to talk about the beauty and significance of friendship, and how it can only be seen when one is surrounded by good friends. He also warns Laertes that relationships can lead to fights, and if he does get into a fight, he should do so in a way that will make others fear to challenge him. Polonius then advises Laertes to listen more and talk less, and to wear clothes that are appropriate and make him stand out from the rest. He also cautions him against borrowing or lending money to friends, as it can damage relationships or hurt his reputation. Finally, he ends his speech with the famous line, “This above all: to thine own self be true,” meaning that Laertes should always be true to himself and act on what he says.


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