Thursday, November 13, 2014
Polonius and Ophelia
So, a lot of discussion has been started by Polonius and Ophelia's interaction in Act 1 scene 3. I am not by any means trying to vindicate Polonius from any blame of sexism, but I do believe it is kind of unfair to apply modern standards to standards that would have existed in 1600, for at this time, a higher level of obedience to one's parents was definitely expected - hence why Ophelia refers to Polonius under the title lord. Even in modern times, we are expected to listen to our parents and respect them, while I certainly engage in conversation with my father and voice different points of view on certain issues, I have to listen to him when he says, "No, you can't go out tonight" or something along those lines. This entire scene reminds me a lot of the scene in The Little Mermaid where Ariel argues with King Triton and he forbids her from going to the surface to see her love. At which point Ariel immediately argues, "I'm sixteen, I'm practically an adult, and I love him!" At this point I would imagine the majority of the audience that isn't around 10 or less would kind of roll there eyes and say suuuuuuure (imagine the middle schoolers saying they will be together forever). While King Triton (and Polonius) could have definitely been more compassionate and whatnot, we have to think why they make the decisions that they did. King Triton has lived through several generations and seen his fellow mer-people fall in love with various humans and try to interact with them, only to have the humans do the typical human reaction and either freak out and kill them or exploit them for science/barnum-bailey's circus type treatment. King Triton does have more experience, and wants the best for his daughter and is worried for her, much like Polonius is afraid for his daughter and doesn't want her to be exploited, for he has seen what has become of other women who have done this. While yes, he is afraid to lose his family's honor, I believe that he is also worried for Ophelia's sake as well, for we have seen how adulterers are treated in this culture (think the Scarlet Letter).