Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act 2, Scene 2, creates a dual character for Hamlet. Hamlet’s emotions are apparent in this soliloquy as Hamlet expresses his feelings on revenge as well as the uncertainty of his father’s ghost. Hamlet’s attitude in this soliloquy is full of rage and uncertainty as he describes the situation he is inevitably stuck in. Hamlet berates himself for his lack of passion and frustration for his imminent revenge on his uncle and his ambivalent feelings of attachment and doubt for his father’s ghost. At the start of the soliloquy, Hamlet talks about the player’s passion when he reenacted Hecuba’s character. Hamlet questions, “What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba? What would he do, Had he the motive and the cue for passion That I have?” to relate his present situation of grief, just like Hecuba wept for Priam. This allusion emphasizes the passion that he feels he should have for avenging his father.
The player’s impact on Hamlet also acts as a parallel, and he reproaches himself for his own lack of action as Hamlet can’t quite express this passion, but he desires to acquire it. The issue with passion then expands as he describes the play as being so respectable that the players will make the guilty “mad” and “appal” the free. This use of copiousness adds to the accumulation to help increase in tension that Hamlet is trying to create. Along with the lack of passion Hamlet displays, he is frustrated with himself as he questions his role in revenge on Claudius. Hamlet calls himself a “rogue and peasant slave,” which explains why he is not directly acting on his uncle’s revenge and instead resides in an indirect approach of constructing a play of his father’s death. This reference continues as he states that he is like a “muddy-mettled rascal” and a “scullion.” This repetitive use highlights the self-loathing that is evident in this soliloquy.
The frustration continues as Hamlet describes that he should courageously kill his uncle. Still, in fact, all he can do is mope, acting like “John-a-dreams,” resulting in him only talking about avenging Claudius. Overall, the questions himself of being “a coward” as he doubts his ability to achieve success on his revenge, ultimately feeling fearful of the upcoming dangers and death he plans for his uncle. Hamlet’s feelings of affection from his determination to execute the revenge are also apparent in this soliloquy. Hamlet expresses his love by condemning Cladius. Hamlet reproaches that Claudius is a “bloody, bawdy villain!” as Hamlet accounts Claudius’ sins for “remorseless (ly)” murdering his father without letting him atone; treacherous (ly) took his father’s position of the crown; “lecherous (ly) lured his mother and “kindness (ly)” condemned Denmark.
Hamlet reminds himself that he is the “son of the dear murdered” King Hamlet and establishes his identity. He addresses how he would like to act—bravely but affirms that he can merely “unpack my heart with words.” He knows that although murder does not have a voice, he knows that his uncle will hesitate or “blench” and is confident in taking revenge in honour of his father. Hamlet then contradicts himself and loses faith that the ghost is really his father. Hamlet states that his father’s ghost “may be a devil—“ thus emphasizes the worry of eternal damnation. Hamlet’s fearful tone towards the end of his soliloquy highlights the juxtaposition of the feelings of love and uncertainty for his father’s ghost. Hamlet expresses his hesitation on the revenge, as he believes that the ghost “abuses me, to damn me.” Hamlet is cautious about revenge, and although he wants to be brave, there is also doubt, which may lead to damnation. In the end, Hamlet decides, “The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” Even though Hamlet concludes, the soliloquy emphasizes Hamlet’s dual character and indecisiveness through the juxtaposition between the desire of passion and fear of initiating the revenge and through juxtaposition between attachment and uncertainty of his father’s ghost.