As Claudius sends Voltimand and Cornelius off to Norway, he thanks and gives them complete trust.
This shows his trust and caring for his subjects in front of the court, winning even more consent from the council: “We doubt it nothing. He also increases his appearance of an honest and noble man in front of the council by showing his respect for Polonius when he gives his son, Laertes, permission to leave for France.
In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the main theme of the play is appearance versus reality.
The characters within the play appear to be sincere and honourable when in reality they are corrupt and immoral.
Polonius appears to be a good father, and honourable man. He gives advice in order to appear to be a caring father, when in fact he speaks in order to look good rather than to actually be good.
Upon learning that his son is going to France, he gives several pieces of advice to Laertes, in particular “This above all, to thine own self be true” (II. Polonius then sends Reynaldo to bring Laertes money but instructs that “Before you visit him, to make inquire / Of his behaviour” (II. 4-5), and then advises him how to be sneaky about it.While Polonius appears to be a loving and caring father to Laertes and Ophelia, his approach to Ophelia’s relationship with Hamlet and his interaction with the King proves his overwhelming desire for recognition and status.In Act I, having received the consent of both the King and his father, Laertes prepares for Paris.To the general public, Claudius is an honourable man who, in the wake of King Hamlet’s death, marries Gertrude for the betterment of Denmark.In Act I, in the presence of the court, Claudius speaks highly of the spent king and shows a general love for all of his subjects.Surprisingly, Polonius makes no attempt to comfort her.He simply addresses the King concerning the encounter between Hamlet and Ophelia and discusses the next steps in determining the cause of Hamlet’s madness.Before he departs, Polonius takes time to sit down with Laertes and provide a few words of advice.He instructs Laertes to avoid quarrels, to make friends easily, to be neither a borrower or a lender, and most importantly, “to thine own self be true” (82).Four of the main characters that attempt to deceive Hamlet by hiding behind this mask are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Polonius, and King Claudius.Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are two of Hamlets childhood friends who are not as they appear. They give the appearance of being Hamlet’s friend, yet in reality, the pair only came to Elsinore because they were summoned. Knowing that his so-called friends are lying about the purpose of their visit, Hamlet discloses nothing to them.