In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, the two title characters often play with words. They pun off of each other's words without much intention of moving their dialogue toward a set purpose. Instead, they are simply goofing around, like two kids throwing a ball back and forth. At the same time, however, the consistently poor communication in the play seems to hint at a broader breakdown in understanding between the characters that may help send the play into its tragic spiral. Language is sometimes seen as an empowering way of writing one's own fate, but for Ros and Guil it often seems like an impotent tool, best suited for idle speculation.
Questions About Language and Communication
- Ros and Guil play a number of word games, whether they be "questions" or role-playing different scenarios. How are these word games different than other more traditional games that they might play? Why do they often speak of words as the only things that they have to play with?
- How do failures of communication lead to the tragic ending of the play?
- Why do Ros and Guil seem so dependent on the words of others to know what is happening to them at any given moment? Why do they put all their trust in language, rather than experience?
Chew on This
In the play, language more often leads to a breakdown in communication between characters than it does to trust and understanding.
The Complexity of Life and Death in "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead"
678 Words3 Pages
The main theme of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead is the complexity of life, death, and the events that lead to it. It also depicts the theory of determinism vs. free will. These are very similar to the themes seen in Hamlet. There is a complementary structure between Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead and Hamlet in the sense that, they are written in different time periods and show different understanding on the subject at hand. In 1602, the time when Hamlet was written, people believed in church and that dead would go to heaven or hell based on their deeds , but Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead was written in 1960’s a time of existentialism, when existence of god and essence of life were questioned.…show more content…
They both also think about what happens to a person after he dies and seem to have come to similar conclusions that after death nothing remains of him other than his body; As Guildenstern says “You see him now and then you don’t see him”. Another parallel structure is that both Hamlet and Player think that there is no good and bad, only thinking makes it so. For example the player says that “truth is only that which is taken to be true”. There is also a parallel structure in the way that Hamlet and Player believe that we are all actors who pretend to be people. In Hamlet, Hamlet acts like an insane person, but for all that we know he could be insane. When he says “We’re actors…we are the opposite of people”. The player is trying to convey that we all pretend to be something we are. The setting of the play is also critical for the theme of the play. It orients the audience to the crucial elements such as time, place and mood. By stripping the play off these, Stoppard is confusing the audience further about the identity of Guildenstern and Rosencrantz. There are minimal props in the play. The few props that are used, like the coins, do not follow the normal law, like the law of probability by falling heads all the time. The stage direction of the play is also important in the sense that it conveys determinism. This is because an actor in a play has a script, a certain posture and a determined pace to be stood at. This leaves no