To say that a person deserves to die is tantamount to taking justice into one’s own hands and becoming judge, jury and executioner all in one. It is to signify that one has attained the status of a God, able to smite the unworthy and the unjust upon whim. Many people have tried to play this role; Hitler, Stalin and numerous other vigilantes, each convinced that they had the right to take the life of another because of some so-called higher purpose.
It is also plain to see how most, if not all, of these people turned out. Not one of these people lived happily ever after and all of their stories ended in tragedy, much like Hamlet. In anger, frustration, jealousy or hatred, an individual is robbed of most of his senses and perhaps the most important of all, common sense. Polonius was not the most likeable character in the play Hamlet and neither was he a saint but neither was Hamlet.
In Act I, Scene iii, line 96, Polonius says to Ophelia, “You do not understand yourself so clearly as it behooves my daughter and your honor”. While this line clearly shows the hypocrisy of Polonius and reveals his lack of heart and honor, it cannot be said, even in the face of Polonius’ disloyalty, that he deserved to die. Disloyalty was a crime punishable by death but under the current circumstances such a sentence cannot be justified. Loyalty is earned and the actions of Hamlet are hardly those that earn one the loyalty and respect of man.
In the immortal words of Jesus Christ, “Let him without sin cast the first stone. ” While we all may be past throwing stones at each other, it may be important to learn to trust the justice system. It may not always be effective but at least it prevents us from making the bigger sin of condemning an innocent man to death. This is not to say that Polonius was not without sin but then again who are we to judge when we are sinners ourselves.