Why does Polonius send Reynaldo to Paris?

In Hamlet, Polonius sends Reynaldo to France to spy on his son, Laertes. He pays Reynaldo as his servant and instructs him to use any means necessary to damage Laertes’ reputation. Polonius wants to control his son, even from another country, and uncover any hidden secrets. He doesn’t trust Laertes and wants to ensure that he doesn’t misbehave while he’s away. Reynaldo has to obey Polonius, even though he initially suspects something shady is going on.


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This action by Polonius reveals him to be a deceitful and mean-spirited man. He sees the same traits in his son that he possesses himself and is willing to cringe before Claudius and show his loyalty through espionage. However, Polonius believes he is acting in his son’s best interest, to teach him a valuable lesson. Shakespeare’s characters are often complex and open to interpretation, and Polonius is no exception. He is both wise and foolish, sensible and callous.


Polonius’s desire to control and manipulate his son is evident in his actions. He wants to make sure Laertes doesn’t embarrass him while he’s away and is willing to use any means necessary to achieve this. However, his actions also reveal his belief that he knows what’s best for his son. Despite his questionable methods, Polonius believes he is teaching Laertes a valuable lesson about surviving harmful rumors.


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