Shakespeares characterization of Hamlet changes through the course of the play. It is most evident in an examination of his soliloquies. The progression of Hamlet is from an innocent person to a murderous madman.
In Act II, Hamlet is blaming himself for many problems. He is angry with himself because he has done nothing with his plan to kill Claudius. It also bothers Hamlet he is not as emotional as the actor on the stage, who is portraying him. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!/Is it not monstrous that this player here,/But in fiction, in a dream of passion,/Could force his soul so to his own conceit/That from her working all his visage wannd,/Tears in his eyes, distraction ins aspect,/A broken voice, and his whole function suiting. With forms to his conceit?
In this soliloquy, he is questioning how other people become emotional. He asks what Hecuba means to the mere actor on stage, who cried because of her. He wonders what he would do, had the actor had the same reasons to cry as Hamlet had. He says:
Whats Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, /that he should weep for her?/What would he do,/Had he the motive and the cue for passion that I have?
He answers his own questions. He says that the actor would drown the stage with tears and cleave the general ear with horrid speech. He does not talk about his mother at all in this soliloquy. He is, however, still disgusted by what has just happened. He hates Claudius and talks about him more in this soliloquy. He says:
I should have fatted all the region kites/With this slaves offal: bloody, bawdy villain!/Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
Towards the end of the play, he comes up with yet another plan to find out for sure if Claudius indeed murdered his father. He stops assaulting himself and starts to talk more declaratively about his new plan.
Even at the very start of Hamlets soliloquy in Act III, it is evident that he is in a more thoughtful mood.
To be, or not to be: that is the question:/Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer/The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,/Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,/And by opposing end them?
These are Hamlets well-known lines. He is not attacking himself in this soliloquy; rather he is contemplating an issue. He is talking about mankind as a whole, as opposed to himself personally.
He compares death to sleep, and argues that man does not know what dreams he will see during death. He argues that the reason people dont commit suicide, is because they dont know what comes after death:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come/When we have shuffled off this mortal coil/Must give us pause: theres the respect/That makes calamity of so long life
By the fourth soliloquy in Act IV, Hamlet starts to wonder again why he hasnt yet acted and avenged his fathers murder. He has just heard that Fortinbras is about to fight over a worthless piece of land, but he cant even do anything even if his uncle killed his father and stained his mother. He says:
Witness this army of such mass and charge/Led by a delicate and tender prince,/Whose spirit with divine ambition puffd/makes mouths at the invisible event,/Exposing what is mortal and unsure/To all that fortune, death and danger dare,/Even for an egg-shell.
In this soliloquy, however, he is not attacking himself. He is encouraging himself to act. His personality has changed since the second soliloquy. He implies that one is not a man without honor.
Rightly to be great/Is not to stir without great argument,/But greatly to find quarrel in a straw/When honours at the stake.
By the end of this soliloquy, he is giving himself the final words of encouragement. He says let [His] thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth! He ends by saying, making it seem as if he will get up right at that moment and go off to kill the king.
These three soliloquies of Hamlet, in Act II, III, and IV, emphasize a successive change that is seen in Hamlet. The change in his tone of voice makes this change more audible to the listeners ears. His evolution thus, is shown by these three of Hamlets soliloquies.