Both Polonius and the speaker from “To A Sad Daughter” are struggling with the concept of letting go of their daughter and both love their daughter. Polonius is not ready to let go of his daughter. As no mention has been made of Ophelia’s mother; we must assume that Ophelia is the predominant female figure for him in his life. He looks at Laertes as his heir, typical in his time, also evidenced by the fact that it seems that they have talked about Ophelia and Halmet’s relationship.
He looks after his daughter and cares for her in his own ways. Although his bawdy advices to Ophelia when he asks her about her and Hamlet’s relationship may seem harsh, it may also be taken as a sign that Polonius is not ready to let go of his daughter. Every parent struggles to let their kids gain their independence but Polonius has not yet realized that his daughter is ready to have a relationship with some male other than her family members.
He not only fears that Ophelia might ruin her reputation and therefore ruin the family’s reputation, he also fears that if he has to acknowledge that Hamlet has “My lord, he hath importuned me with love/ In honourable fashion” as Ophelia claims then he must let go of Ophelia and trust someone else will take care of her as he and Laertes have tried to do.
Polonius not letting his daughter take risks, although selfish at times, shows that he doesn’t want his daughter to do something she regrets, and thinks to take care of her so she doesn’t have to be burdened and he refuses to acknowledge that she can take care of herself because she seems to be the “baby” of the family. Meanwhile the speaker in “To A Sad Daughter” although he acknowledges that he is sad to let his daughter go, he actually will.
Another gender role is shown in the first few lines of the first stanza where the reader actually thinks that he is talking about a son because of the reference to the pre-dominantly male sport of hockey. However, soon we learn that she is his daughter. The speaker, like Polonius, gives his daughter advice on life. Shocked that she is not taking risks in her life he is telling her to go out an be tempted by the sirens, which seems odd as sirens represent death.
Polonius who is not even ready to acknowledge his daughter can make decisions for herself is way different from the speaker who thinks that if she never takes risks she will never life to its fullest. Because he loves her so much, the speaker knows that he must let her off to the world and trust that she will come back to him.