In act 2 of "Hamlet" what impression of Hamlet is made?

Expert Answers
ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act I, the audience saw Hamlet only as a son at first mourning over his lost father and the quick marriage of his mother. After he sees his father's ghost, we still have no real picture of Hamlet's personality. This personality becomes evident in Act 2. Hamlet has has the forethought to pledge the witnesses to his father's ghost swear they won't reveal anything. This allows Hamlet time ( some say too much time) to organize a plan to 1. find out if the ghost was telling the truth and 2. formulate a plan to deal with the ghost's accusations. We see Hamlet toying with Polonius, pretending to be mad to him, but, in the process, saying much to the audience through double entendre, Hamlet is also shows wisdom in his choice of whom to trust. He immediately distrusts his so-called friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. He does not even trust Ophelia and we see that Hamlet can be quite cruel if he has to be, when he deals with Ophelia. However, he is also clever and when the players come to Elsinore, he immediately thinks of a plan that will reveal whether the ghost is telling the truth. To the players, he is a consummate host and makes lively conversation. But to those he mistrusts, he is cunning and careful not to reveal himself. All of these qualities may seem admirable, but it is clear in his "to be or not to be" speech, that Hamlet is also deeply depressed even though he is able to carry on in his search for the truth.