Originally Posted by Edward Appleby
Okay, I'm sorry Soph, but your sig is bugging me. Are you familiar with the character Polonius, or the placement of that line? The character himself is something of a buffoon, and the monologue in which the line comes is rather sarcastic. Not really sig material, unless you're being ironic, which I doubt.
I'll disagree and the phrase is placed outside of its original context. The phrase of itself is a motif to quality and beauty, but not ostentatious wear, and similar to Twain's "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society” I remember in college his character being much more than its surface. Perhaps if it becomes a source of discontent and endless barbs, and wall to the postive message I believe it contains, and takes away from the focus of advancing satorial topics I will (delete).
Nonetheless, I found this quote:
Never wear anything that panics the cat. ~P.J. O'Rourke
Your business clothes are naturally attracted to staining liquids. This attraction is strongest just before an important meeting.-Scott Adams
---Somewhat funny and a bit of truth to it.
Google provides a complete eval, much more than I care to research of the character:
Hamlet more than any other character acts as the true voice of Shakespeare. So when he refers to Polonius as a "tedious old fool," what else is the reader to think of this key advisor to King Claudius? Many literature buffs believe that the character of Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet is nothing but a rambler, spouting insights that sound wise on the surface but are shallow upon further exploration. I do not agree. The aforementioned line occurs during the famous speech that near its conclusion, professes the words, "To thine own self be true". The actual truth is that Polonius has great depth and insight into himself and the minds and souls of the other characters. How else could one explain the stark wisdom that is emitted toward the close of Polonius' long-winded observation? This was Shakespeare's way of telling us that Polonius was not just a simple advisor with a propensity for egotism, but an oddly complex, well-rounded man.
The statement, "To thine own self be true" in and of itself raises a series of philosophical questions about the nature of truth. Whether these questions are answerable or even valid is insignificant when compared to that fact that they solicit self-exploration. Could a "tedious old fool" spawn such a plethora of questions purely by accident? I don't think so. In order to ponder the elements of truth, one must inherently be a philosopher. Those who are simply "flat", or one-dimensional, are those who ponder nothing deeper than their evening meal. The tediousness of human existence only saturates the minds of those who feel the world already has too many "thinkers". This is not at all relevant to the belief system of Polonius.
"I have found / The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy" (2.2.48-49). Polonius searches for cause and reason. He does not simply accept facts as facts, he seeks to discover the truth on his own. He goes into great length about Hamlet's madness and its relation to love and truth. He then seeks to "try out" his theories by testing Hamlet's sanity through a slew of probing questions. These are not the actions of a simple man.
Even though King Claudius is interested in Polonius' views on Hamlet's mental condition, Polonious insists on savoring the information as "the fruit to that great feast." This decision adds even more complexity to the character of Polonius because it adds a note of recklessness to Polonius pontifical nature. Later, the king asks the queen if she thinks that Polonious has truly found the "source and head" of Hamlet's "distemper." She replies: "I doubt it is no other but the main; / His father's death, and our o'erhasty marriage" (2.2.56-57). She abruptly discredits Polonius' assessments as mere ramblings, assuming that she herself must be more astute and in tune with the situation. As the scene progresses, she peddles her theories to Hamlet by trying to "have a talk" with him about letting go of his father and embracing the new king as a suitable replacement. Her "deep" analysis of Hamlet's situation pales in comparison to the observations generated by the "fool" Polonius.
Polonius' words have had an everlasting impact on the world of literature, his lines being cited more than any other Hamlet character. That would tend to suggest that if nothing else, he had the skill of spouting politically correct rhetoric down pat. Sounds like a shrewd and very typical politician to me. In addition, his concerns about Ophelia’s virginal status, as well as his advice to Laertes was in reality, quite sound. After all, the plans of Claudius and Laertes backfired to the extent that Hamlet and his mother both lost their lives.
Perhaps Polonius' sometimes foolish behavior was simply a clever ruse on his part (or on the part of Shakespeare) which allowed him to catch people off guard when they let down their defenses in his presence. Perhaps he did not want the king to feel that his subordinate was wiser than he, for he knew that this would cause great dissension. Perhaps he simply enjoyed pulling other people's strings. Regardless of his motives, Polonius can in no logical way be described as an uncomplicated character.
Polonius continually oscillates between moods of childishness and parental responsiveness. On the one hand, he exploits his observational nature to the point that it drives him to become "a spy", hiding and eavesdropping on Hamlet like a child playing hide and seek in the shadows. Yet when the paternal side of Polonious shouts at Ophelia, "Affection! pooh! you speak like a green girl...Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?" (1:3) is he not experiencing reasonable doubts? After all, what father isn't convinced that the man his daughter loves has less than honorable motives. Though these may not be terribly admirable qualities, they are hardly unintriguing. Polonius exhibits personality traits that range from the reprehensible to the admirable, and actions that range from thoughtlessness to deep introspection. At times he does appear foolish and at other times his lucidity is frightening. Although a bit long-winded at times, the character of Polonius expresses a wealth of valuable insights along his journey towards true enlightenment.
If inspiring both one’s allies and enemies to ponder the meaning of truth…if the concern for one's children and a vast diversity of personality traits are what constitutes a fool, then I guess Hamlet was correct in his assumption. However few could logically claim that such in-depth qualities do not evoke the notion of a fool, but that of a well-rounded, three dimensional human being (Or literary character as the case may be). Polonius has gotten a "bad rap" from literary analysts in the past, but further exploration reveals that his character represents an intricately designed personification of wisdom.