that Polonius guy

Literary Tattoos: Shakespeare Hamlet

This Hamlet tattoo was submitted by Joh.

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

- Hamlet, Act I, sc. iii

Joh, however, prefers another quote:

I have to say, I love Hamlet, I love Shakespeare in general, and I love the message of the whole speech.

Plus, the excellent Clueless reference cannot be ignored:

Heather: It’s just like Hamlet said, “To thine own self be true.”
Cher: Hamlet didn’t say that.
Heather: I think I remember Hamlet accurately.
Cher: Well, I remember Mel Gibson accurately, and he didn’t say that. That Polonius guy did.


  1. Rude Mechanical says

    You folks are aware that Polonius saying this is very ironic as he gets to say NOTHING profound. He is the one who said "Brevity is the soul of wit" and then would not shut up for PAGES.

    Polonius quotes mean nothing… he was a windbag

  2. Alex says

    It is very clear in the play, when Polonius says this to his son Laertes as he departs for France, that there is absolutely no “great message.” Polonius gives his son terrible, shallow advice and unfortunately this quote, when taken out of context, misleads about the true nature of the passage.

  3. Danielle says

    I have the same quote except on my back, and I dont care whos meant to have said what in the play,the quote itself is meaningful to me anyway but each to their own

  4. erika says

    i'm with danielle! i have this on me as well. i didn't get it because i meant it in the same way polonius says it. i got it because i'm obsessed with hamlet and the statement is something i do absolutely believe- despite the fact that polonius is kind of full of shit.

  5. Gloria says

    I love how people keep assuming that those who would use this quote as a tattoo must not be aware of its context in the play and then feel the need to explain it to make the person who has it feel like a fool, I guess. I have this quote as a tattoo on my back as well, and I know how exactly how it was meant when Polonius says it. I like the idea that it can be interpreted more than one way, as either an entirely selfish sentiment or with a more high-minded intent. As Danielle said, I don't care who said it or how, it is a quote that is meaningful to me personally, not because I'm trying to emulate Polonius.

  6. Gloria says

    I love how people assume that someone with this tattoo must be unaware of its context in the play and then feel the need to explain its real meaning so that the person with the tattoo can feel like an idiot after getting schooled about what it really means. I have this tattoo on my back and I know exactly how it's used in the play. I just like the idea that as an individual quote, taken out of context, it can be interpreted in more than one way–either as in a "look out for number one way" or as a way of remaining true to your own ideals. As another poster said, I don't care who said it or how they said it, it's just a quote that means something to me individually.


Leave a Reply