Polonius: a rat behind the arras of life?
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Those familiar with the play will remember Polonius as the comic relief. Wrong about everything, but convinced that he is a man of enormous wisdom with words of worth for everyone to hear, he is really a self-infatuated buffoon brim-full of bombast, a bad counselor to the usurping Claudius, an officious spymaster and an inept spy. By the time Hamlet, poking around the arras with a dagger for rats, mistakes him for a “rat” named Claudius and fatally stabs him, most of the audience is unsure whether to laugh or applaud. Usually, it does both.