Stoppard's Rosencrantz Essay

939 words - 4 pages


In Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead, the composer’s intention is to show part of the story of Hamlet out of the eyes of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. It Is different to Shakespeare’s Hamlet because of a number of reasons.

A writer will sometimes create a character who is put into the story to provide a contrast or comparison with the main character. Such a character may be placed into a similar situation as the main character, but react differently, in order to show how much better or worse he/she is than the main character. This kind of character is called a foil. In the story Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead Stoppard uses different foils to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Stoppard uses Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as foils for each other. They are both in the same situation but react differently. It shows both of their personalities which enhances people’s interest in the story. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are the main characters in the story. Hamlet is used as a plot device.
In Hamlet, Fortinbras is a young Prince of Norway, whose father the King (also named Fortinbras) was killed by Hamlet’s father (also named Hamlet). Fortinbras wishes to attack Denmark to avenge his father’s honour, making him a foil for Prince Hamlet.

A clear perspective of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s personalities is evident in Stoppard’s transformation. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, it hardly shows any of their personalities at all. In Hamlet, the confusion surrounding the names of these "attendant lords" (Ros and Guil) is basically an oddly out-of-place gag concerning their insignificance. But as Stoppard moves these minor characters to centre stage, their namelessness becomes a critique of identity.

Stoppard allows the audience to function as critics during the play rather than afterward. By transplanting characters from a play we already know, Stoppard enlarges our perspective. We can see beyond the limited view of the characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and critique their situation in the context of our own lives. We can see both heads and tails.

Stoppard didn’t take the serious issues of Hamlet quite so seriously. Stoppard’s transformation is more comical and humerous without as many important issues as Hamlet. It generally sticks to a simple but clever storyline.

The impact of society and cultural influence upon a text’s composition is deep and may be viewed as reflective of the period in which it was created. Separated by several centuries of social change, turmoil, and general upheaval, the values presented within both these texts are hardly matching.

The decline in recognition of the supernatural as an influence upon humans may be viewed as (at least partly) responsible for the change in attitudes displayed between the ‘original’ and transformed work.

Death is the driving force for the events of the text in Hamlet. Hamlet may be read as a revenge tragedy...

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