In Hamlet, many characters put on a faade, and become someone they are not. In Act 2 in particular, the players are used to Hamlet and King Claudiuss advantages to show more about their motivations and actions. During Rosencrantz and Guildensterns performances, they are used to enhance the readers view of Hamlets character. Additionally, the concept of acting and being someone you arent, is a theme that appears with every character, especially Hamlet, throughout the play.
The inconsistency of Hamlets behavior is visible throughout the play as he switches from his alleged madness instantly to being calm and collected and ready to avenge his fathers death. As Hamlet struggles to transform his feelings into motivation and action, the audience sees him sway between killing Claudius and backing out of it again and again. Hamlet begins the play seeming to be extremely distressed and upset that Claudius is a little more than kin and less than kind (1.2.67). However, Hamlet quickly establishes that he needs to wipe away all trivial, fond records, / All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past, / That youth and observation copied there, / And they commandment all alone shall live / Within the book and volume of [his] brain (1.5.106-110). The audience sees a clear shift of Hamlets character as he stops being the mourning student and turns into the avenging son. This shift shows the real beginning of Hamlets struggle to establish what is the right thing for him to do as well as his continual staggering between being a son and being a man.
In act 2 scene 2, King Claudius brings in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to investigate the reason behind Hamlets strange and slightly depressed behavior. While King Claudius tells the players that nor th exterior nor the inward man / resembles that it was (2.2.6-7) to try and discover why Hamlet has gone so mad, Hamlet uses his childhood friends to put on a play that resembles the murder of his father to catch the conscience of the King (2.2.234). This is the first account that the audience sees Hamlet deciding to supposedly take action on his feelings towards his fathers murder in hopes that King Claudius will react to the similarities of the play to his own actions.
Before Hamlet decides he must take action to avenge his fathers death, he critiques the acting of the players, that they cannot possibly really feel the emotions that he is, and if they were, they would be much more dramatic. He says that the players would drown the stage with tears / And cleave the general ear with horrid speech (2.2.589-590) if they were going through everything that Hamlet had to face with the murder of his father. This is also emphasized by Hamlet telling his mother that his grieving does indeed seem, / for they are actions that a man might play (1.2.86-87). Ultimately Rosencrantz and Guildensterns performances show how conniving Hamlet is becoming and how he can quickly move from being upset about the actors portrayal of their characters to developing a plan to prove King Claudius guilty.