Pushing the Limit

2031 Words9 Pages
The inexplicable pressure to conform to societal expectations often overwhelms individuals. A person has a proclivity to distinguish him or herself from the crowd. However, social norms constrict this task. The struggle occurs when an individual attempts becoming prominent among other peers while at the same time trying not to become an outcast. Once an identity for a person has been successfully established, it becomes part of society. Distinction is only kept alive if it is sabotaged by society. After bending the rules enough, actions dictated by the mind fall back in place to how an individual is expected to act. The same way in which societal and cultural taboos set high expectations on individuals, the plays and poems written by Will Shakespeare, among other authors, set high expectations for authors of modern literature. Tom Stoppard, author of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, ascertains a way to push the benchmark set by Shakespeare. By scrupulously choosing the characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Stoppard demonstrates that it is possible to differentiate characters in a world with so many restrictions. He believes that choosing any other characters from any other play would completely miss the point of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Freeman 21). In Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are without personality. This gives Stoppard the opportunity to fill in gaps that gift Ros and Guil an identity without contorting the image of Hamlet. The death of Ros and Guil illustrates that in the end, the characters had no control in Shakespeare’s world, much like individuals have no choice but to adapt to society after an identity has been proven. Emphasizing that Rosencrantz ... ... middle of paper ... ...eans of the identical coats worn by the two Spies and by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern…thus emphasizing for us an identity which the two characters do not themselves recognize”(Draudt 351). The characters don’t associate themselves with the spies because they are not fully aware of what is to come; only the actors do. This expresses how Shakespeare’s lack of identity for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern builds up in Stoppard’s play. Lack of self- recognition in the play shows Shakespeare’s dominance in that scene. In the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Stoppard concedes that evading Shakespeare’s margins is an unfruitful pursuit. Using this, he emphasizes that regardless of the struggle in attempting to change the path, our fate will always win in the end. Despite the struggle to bend the rules, the mind will always bend back into following social norms.
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