Polonius, a foolish old man with a lot to say, is able to produce the amount of relief necessary to his audience. With his long speeches and pleasing manner, Polonius sets a certain tone towards the entirety of the play. Time and time again he gives the old “when I was your age speech” and assumes the role of a parent to everyone, giving his unwanted and disregarded opinion. When a player about the death of Priam makes a deep and eloquent speech, Polonius interrupts by simply saying, “This is too long. ” This being said was entirely ironic because of the long and seemingly pointless speeches that Polonius dishes out to anyone able to hear.
Shakespeare’s use of Polonius as a comic character is significant towards the overall tone of the play. The depressing and death filled play needs a comic way to show its tragic nature through a sort of dark humor. Hamlet’s many remarks regarding death and old age towards Polonius is a prime example of this. Polonius being the foolish elderly man he is, provides an easy target for Hamlet so called ‘humor. ’ Jokes of murder and death, although humorous, provide an edge of darkness to the tone of Hamlet.