Hamlet, By William Shakespeare

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Throughout the course of the play, Hamlet, the reader of the text is introduced to several minor characters, all of whom serve one or more functions to further develop the text. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, are two of the minor characters presented within the play, and the pair serve, unitedly, to illustrate several key themes and ideas within the play, as well as their influence on humor presented within the text. Thus, in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a pair of minor characters, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are utilized through their actions and their dialogue, as a method of establishing several key themes within the text, such as obedience, deception, and identity, or lack thereof, and as a way of establishing humor within the text. Upon their introduction, both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are presented as obedient to Claudius and Gertrude. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern support Claudius and Gertrude’s desire to find the cause of Hamlet’s madness. Obedience is the first idea associated with the pair’s identities, with Guildenstern going as far as to explicitly state that he and Rosencrantz “both obey, and here give up (themselves)” to spy on Hamlet. In their next appearance, the pair acts out such orders, and interacts with Hamlet (II.ii.31-32). Hamlet, however sees through the pair’s guise, and determines that Rosencrantz’s declaration that the pair wanted to “visit him,.. no other occasion”, is simply untrue (II.ii.292). Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, in this quotation, act on their obedience for the first time. Simply by acting on behalf of the king and queen, and disregarding the familiarity and trust shared between themselves and Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern set into motion the theme of obedience, touched on earli... ... middle of paper ... ...r, when Hamlet refers to Rosencrantz as a “sponge” (IV.ii.12). In reducing his qualities to no more than that of an object, let alone a sponge, Rosencrantz is illustrated as an individual who has no worth outside of his most basic functions. Humor is expressed furthermore through the ways in which the dialogue is expressed between the two characters. Altogether, through their dialogue and actions, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern play an integral role in Hamlet despite being minor characters. The pair is crucial to the development of several themes present in the play. Among these themes are deception, identity, and obedience. In addition, the two serve to characterize Hamlet as witty, and add a layer of humor to the text. Hence, despite not being viewed as major characters, the role of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in William Shakespeare 's Hamlet is not understated.

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