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The
relationship Polonius has with his children is far worse than the relationship
Hamlet has with his parents. Polonius considers himself to be the boss of
Ophelia, while Ophelia feels she is obligated to obey her father’s commands out
of fear. Polonius uses his daughter as a tool for his own gain and is more
obsessed with the honour of his family than his daughter’s feelings. In the
first act, Polonius warns Ophelia about getting too close to Hamlet. He does
not want her to jeopardise their high-ranking position within the court by her
being a vulnerable ‘woodcock’ to Hamlet’s supposedly insincere ‘vows’ (Act 1,
Scene 3, ll.114-116). He commands Ophelia to:

Tender
yourself more dearly,

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Or
(not to crack the wind of the poor phrase,

Running
it thus) you’ll tender me a fool (Act 1, Scene 3, ll.107-109).

This shows that
Polonius is acting only in his own interest, rather than in Ophelia’s. He is
more concerned about his place in the kingdom than his own daughter’s
well-being. Ophelia simply responds to his command, ‘I shall obey, my lord’ (Act
1, Scene 3, l.136). Polonius forces Ophelia to depend on him, and she is always
obedient. Throughout the play, Polonius considers his opinion to be the only
correct outlook, and Ophelia blindly follows his commands. Hamlet calls
Polonius a ‘fishmonger’ (Act 2, Scene2, l.172), which is a deprecating term for
a pimp, when referring to how he controls Ophelia. This was Elizabethan slang
for “brothel keeper”, and therefore would have been considered a major insult
by the original audience. This demonstrates that Hamlet is aware that the
relationship between Polonius and Ophelia is not a good one. Moreover, Polonius
uses his daughter as a spy to observe Hamlet’s actions in order to report back
to Claudius, and because of her loyalties towards her father Ophelia complies
with her father’s wishes. This shows a bad dynamic as Polonius is essentially
just using his daughter to his advantage without considering her opinions or
feelings about it. Polonius’s intention is to make himself appear to be a great
father, but Ophelia’s dependency on Polonius is what eventually causes her to
go mad and commit suicide after his death. This shows she loved her father very
much, even though he treated her so badly, it also shows how much she depended
on him.

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