Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Character Analysis

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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.

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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are essentially one character throughout the play, with the pair always being together and always agreeing on the same points. Even in their first lines of dialogue, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are depicted as a singular unit. Rosencrantz begins his first line with mention of “Both your majesties…” (II.ii.27). Guildenstern introduces himself by seeing that he and Rosencrantz “both obey and hereby give up (themselves)” (II.ii.31-32). Not only do both of these lines give explicit mention to the word ‘both’, but Rosencrantz and Guildenstern also refer to each other collectively in their speech rather than just themselves individually, establishing, immediately after being introduced to the pair, that they are one collective unit in the text. This remains true even in their death. At the conclusion of the play, an ambassador arrives to deliver a piece of important news. The ambassador states that “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead” (V.ii.411). Thus, both in life and in death, the identity of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are one in the same, an identity dominated solely by obedience and…show more content…
Hamlet, upon realizing the pair’s attempted deception, pokes fun at them, and toys with them, much like he does to Polonius. In his first discussion with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Hamlet and the pair have a short exchange on the topic of Fortune, or more specifically, Lady Fortune. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern state that they reside in Lady Fortune, meaning that they are lucky. Hamlet then proceeds to ask the two where they reside in Lady Hamlet, to which Guildenstern states that “faith, her privates we” (II.ii.252). Hamlet retorts with a bit of humor, calling her a “strumpet” (II.ii.254). This does not mark the end for Hamlet’s wit, however, as he goes into a ramble about how Denmark is a prison, how in a dream one can be a ruler, and how a dream is but a shadow. The exchange intendeds to invoke humor seeing how complex the exchange is over something philosophical, and unrelated to the situation at hand. This instance in particular draws similarities to the ways by which Hamlet interacts with Polonius. A final instance of Hamlet’s wit comes later in the play during Act Four, 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
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