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Customer Review

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stoppard does what Shakespeare did not, August 23, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Paperback)
In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are unnecessary characters. Everything they do in the play could have been done by already existing characters. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are not individual characters in this play. There is no Rosencrantz; there is no Guildenstern. There is only Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Shakespeare put them in to resemble the outside world, not to establish actual characters to add to the depth of the play. Tom Stoppard wrote "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" in order to give the duo their own separate personalities. He, just as Shakespeare did, has them resemble our own world. R&G are modern men in a very modern play. Stoppard contradicts Shakespeare by justifying Hamlet's death just as Shakespeare had Hamlet justify R&G's deaths, "He is a man, he is mortal, death comes to us all, etcetera, and consequently he would have died anyway, sooner or later . . . he's just one man among many" (Stoppard 110). Shakespeare uses the same words only to justify the murderous actions of Hamlet, "Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!" (3.4.32). Through Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Stoppard tells of the reality of death how "death is . . . not. Death isn't. You take my meaning. Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being" (Stoppard 108). Whereas Shakespeare creates a fantasy about death, as Hamlet says, "To die, to sleep-to sleep, perchance to dream" (6.3.64-65). In direct opposition with Hamlet's "to be or not to be", Stoppard writes, "Rosencrantz: Where's it going to end? Guildenstern: That's the question" (Stoppard 44). The beauty in this writing is found in its existentialistic views, whether or not Stoppard intended his play to portray life in that manner. If you enjoy "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead", you will love "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett. ~ anthea
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