Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead Analysis

Satisfactory Essays
Tom Stoppard based the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead on the play Hamlet; he shows Hamlet from the perspectives of two minor characters – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The perspective of these characters exaggerates what Hamlet goes through, makes the understanding of the play as a whole more complicated, and confuses the readers. Despite these negative effects, readers are able to see the play Hamlet in a new light.
By retelling Hamlet from the perspective of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Stoppard expands certain plot points from Hamlet. Parts that may seem completely normal in Hamlet’s world are conveyed abnormally in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Throughout Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet recites soliloquies when he is either at his worst or feeling most confused. For instance, an important portion of Hamlet is the “To be or not to be” soliloquy – Hamlet’s monologue about mortality and whether he should kill himself. Stoppard includes this scene, but places it in the background, while placing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are in the foreground, wondering whether to approach Hamlet. Seeing Hamlet talking to himself from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s perspectives further convinces the two that the accusation of Hamlet’s insanity is true. Seeing the same scene from two different viewpoints allows the readers to see the distinction between normal actions in the world of Hamlet and the degeneration of these actions in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. In this case, Hamlet talking to himself in Hamlet seems normal. Shown in Stoppard’s play, through Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s eyes, Hamlet’s soliloquy becomes exaggerated and conveys him as slightly crazy because he is caught talking to himself.
Stoppard also ...

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...air never dies; no axes, no rope, and no poison ever reach the stage. They simply disappear: “Now you see me, now you --” (Stoppard 126). With this vague, formless staging of death Tom Stoppard adds complexity and removes the inflexible formation of death. This complexity complicates the reader’s idea that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are actually dead.
After careful examination of these sources of evidence, if the reader had not read Hamlet prior to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, they would be immensely confused. While Hamlet acts independently as a play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern require Hamlet to function as a play. Hamlet is the foundation for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. As such, the confusion Stoppard impresses upon the reader relies on a firm understanding of Hamlet. The readers must have a frame of reference for Stoppard to manipulate.
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