How does the speech "To be or not to be..." affect our understanding of Hamlet's character and his role(s) in the play as a whole?
In this speech we see the core of Hamlet's problem; we see clearly that he is a man who has come to understand himself. He has finally understood that his real problem is his incapacity to act in a decisive manner. The soliloquy concludes with this understanding. His role in the revenge tragedy had been to slay Claudius for the murder of his father. Hamlet has so far failed to do this and this famous soliloquy is concerned with two things: firstly, Hamlet's desire for death, and his own aversion to decisive action.
At the start of the play Hamlet is revealed as a despondent, suicidal character. He wishes his flesh would "resolve itself into a dew." He is tired of the world and sees it as corrupt, "an unweeded garden" - a fallen place.
The root of his disgust is his mother's "o'er hasty marriage.." It is this "incestuous" action that infects Hamlet's world view.
When Hamlet learns from the ghost of Claudius' crime his role is to avenge the "foul and most unnatural murder.." However Hamlet speculates on the "the stamp of one defect" that can be the "vicious mole of nature.." that undoes a man. Hamlet realizes that human nature is a flawed proposition. After he has spoken with the Ghost Hamlet vows to avenge his father's murder; but his determination is flawed. He speaks of the time being "out of joint", and of his sense that it is "cursed spite" that has cast him in the role of avenger, in the role of the one who was born to "set it right." In "To be or not to be..."...