.. . When he swings back to support acting again he says, It hath made me mad. I say we will have no more marriages. Those that are married already-all but one-shall live.
(3.1.149-151) The one Hamlet is referring to must be the King. So it returns to vengeance and acting going together. In the next scene the conflicting action is similar, but less obvious. When Hamlet is advising the player on how his lines should be read he says, Suit the action to the word, the word to the action (3.2.17-18). If Hamlet would follow his own advice he would not have a conflict.
This shows that he is not consistent within himself. Hamlet is saying one should not distinguish between word and actions, but he does maintain this separation. Yet when Hamlet speaks with Horatio he praises him for being objective, levelheaded, and for having a consistent character. He is praising Horatio for being true to himself, not being an actor. Hamlet says, Give me that man That is not passionis slave, and I will wear him In my heartis core, ay, in my heart of heart, As I do thee. (3.2.69-72) Hamlet is saying this because he wants Horatio to watch the King at the play.
He is unsure of his uncleis guilt, and he wants proof. He wants it from someone who he thinks is honest throughout. It comes back to acting and vengeance or in this case he has failed in his vengeance and needs Horatio to agree with him. Hamlet says to Horatio, Observe mine uncle. If his occulted guilt Do not itself unkernnel in one speech, It is a dammed ghost we have seen, (3.2.77-80) Proof, however, does not have any thing to do with the role Hamlet is supposed to play, but there is more to it than that. The interesting thing is that his uncle will be judged by how he acts during the play.
If the King is a good actor, and does not show his guilt, he will most likely not be killed. However, the King is not a good actor and when he rises Hamlet responds with, What, frighted with false fire?(3.2.254). Itis as if Hamlet is saying itis only a play, itis not real. He does say something to this effect a few lines before. Your majesty, and we that have free souls, it touches us not(3.2.229-230).
This new proof drives Hamlet to use more words. He is again to talk of killing, and he says, Now I could drink hot blood (3.2.379). He again associates this with a role, that of Nero. The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom (3.2.383). Later Hamlet again talks himself out of character and does not kill the King.
He puts it off until later and says, When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage, At gaming, swearing, or about some act That has no relish of salvation init, Then trip him that his heels may kick at heaven, And that his soul may be dammed and black (3.3.89-94) He is waiting until Claudius fits the part of a villain. His action is paralyzed whenever something does not fit the part. He needs his revenge to be dramatic so that he may get into it and finally play it out, and it takes him the next scene and an act to finally do this. After Hamlet backs out of killing Claudius, Hamlet says to his mother, O shame, where is thy blush?(3.4.72). He is voicing his distaste for Gertrude not only for marrying his uncle but for not being true to herself, she should show some shame for her sins but does not.
Hamlet is contradicting himself in this. He has been duplicitous and untrue for two thirds of the play. At this point he is still not sure as how he is to proceed. Hamlet is caught in the middle of acting and objectivity. Hamlet finally gets his act together, and decides to act the part his father had given him, after he sees the soldiers going off to war to die. The imminent death of twenty thousand men That, for fantasy and a trick of fame, Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause, Which is not tomb enough and continent To hide the slain.
O, from this time forth My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth! (4.4.51-57) Those soldiers fight and die for an insignificant plot of land, and they do it because they are soldiers, no other reason. Hamlet realizes that he should do what his role dictates strictly because it is his role. He does not falter in his conviction after he returns and fully embraces the act. Upon confronting Laertes he says This is I, Hamlet the Dane (5.1.53-54). The Dane, meaning the King.
He is claiming his right to the throne. This is the appropriate action for someone as wronged as he, albeit late. In reaction to Opheliais death he is again behaving as he should have. She was his love interest and as such he should have loved her more than her brother. This is shown when Hamlet says I loved Ophelia.
Forty thousand brothers /Could not, with their quantity of love,/ Make up my sum (5.1.256-258). Hamlet should have loved her, but he did not. Had he loved her he would not have not treated her so poorly earlier. He is now committed to acting, and loving Ophelia fits the role. In the rest of the play Hamlet does not mess around. He barely has time to tell his story of escape to Horatio before he is challenged.
He does not refuse the challenge because as nobility, which he is finally claiming to be, he cannot refuse and keep his honor. Hamlet goes to the match and because he has now accepted the role he does not hesitate to kill the King when prompted to. It would seem that being a good actor is paramount to survival in this play. Polonius could not stick to the role of adviser and was trying to convince the King that Hamlet was in love with his daughter. This leads him to spy on Hamlet, and because he could not do that right either, is killed. Ophelia could not handle the role of mourning for her father, goes mad and dies as a result.
The King could not cover up his guilt, so Hamlet has the proof he needs to spur him on. Finally Hamlet, who if he would have acted as the ghost instructed him to in the first place, instead of flip flopping, would have killed Claudius outright. Had Hamlet been truly comfortable with acting, Claudius would have been the only causality.