In Hamlet?s second soliloquy the tones of worthlessness and inadequacy are prevalent and serve to emphasize the dissatisfaction he feels with his actions, or lack of action. He rambles incessantly and wallows in his own self-pity as he realizes he has not fulfilled his promise to the Ghost to avenge his father?s murder. Instead, he has thought more about his own death than that of his father?s supposed murderer, Claudius, and is a piteous coward for taking no action towards this murder.
At the beginning of his soliloquy Hamlet has witnessed a player acting a scene engorged with emotion; the scene reminds Hamlet of his own lack of dedication to his cause. It is ?monstrous? (578) that the player ?in a dream of passion? (579) could put so much emotion into the piece that he even cried ?all for nothing? (584). Hamlet is amazed but also suffers from a feeling of pitiful inadequacy because he sees that this player, acting out a speech about a fictional woman who is no more than a character on paper, has put much more emotion and passion into his speech than Hamlet has into avenging his own father?s death. Hamlet loved his father and still continues to mourn for him long after anyone else, and while he should be putting as much emotion as the player into killing his father?s murderer he is not. He is putting less emotion into his cause than the player into a fictional situation. ?Not [even] for a king/ upon whose property and most dear life/ A damned defeat was made? (596, 597, 598) does Hamlet act. Claudius stole all the late King Hamlet had and now the late king suffers in Purgatory because he had not the chance to confess his sins while his own brother sits on the throne and lays in bed with his wife; still, Hamlet does nothing. He is like a whore, a woman, who utters words and words yet they are meaningless for he does not act upon any of them. While to Hamlet Claudius is a villain, so too is he for not taking any action. He is a pitiful, weak, miserable fool who lacks the ?gall? (604) to step up to his commitment. He would rather pace the halls of his home, read, and wish for his own death.
At the end of his soliloquy Hamlet plans a trap for Claudius and this trap is the first of any sort of action Hamlet undertakes, but even this trap is not in fulfillment of that which he has promised the Ghost. Instead, it is a plot to determine if the Ghost is telling the truth by attempting, through a play, to see if Claudius is truly guilty of his father?s murder. Hamlet shows a shift in his opinion of the Ghost from thoughts that he was sent from heaven, to thoughts that ?the spirit [he] have seen/ may be a (devil)… [who] hath power/ T? assume a pleasing shape? (627-629) and seeks to harm him because of his ?weakness and melancholy? (630). Hamlet, therefore, instates this plan to determine if Claudius is indeed guilty, but it is rooted in his own selfish nature as he wants to find out if the Ghost lies or not. He is not making attempts to avenge his father?s death, which is the thing over which he tears himself apart and that makes him feel so useless and inept. By explicitly stating that he is weak and melancholy he is accepting the situation in which he finds himself while he continues to complain and whine like a fool. He acts in a hypocritical and childish manner, taking no actions into his own hands other than the staging of this play and with this play he will accomplish nothing. While Claudius may react negatively to it and Hamlet may infer he is guilty based upon this premise, it will not put Hamlet any closer to fulfillment of his cause and so Hamlet will find himself in the same position as before. He will continue to whine and mope like a pathetic, rambling child because he has not taken direct action to fulfill his promise.
The staging of this trap for Claudius, Hamlet?s comparisons of himself to a whore, and his endless dribble about his cowardous nature all serve to convey Hamlet?s tendency to complain and mope continually yet never take any action. The action he does decide to take is not even action that will directly help him achieve his desired end, that is the killing of his father?s murderer. He feels worthless, inadequate, pathetic, cowardly, and miserable. The problem with his feelings is that he has done nothing to change them. He whines but still does nothing.