What if it was true that man has the power to do whatever he pleases, but in the end all of it will mean — for lack of a better term — nothing? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern experience times of enlightenment, humor, and sorrow throughout their journey, leading them to ponder whether their livelihood actually has some sort of positive meaning.
War, death, destruction had cast a pall over the societies and melancholy and cynicism was the general air in the atmosphere. This gloom made people question a lot of things that they previously took for granted.
Suddenly, the purpose of their existence became an important issue, was there anyone looking out for them? Is there a greater or divine truth behind the life of pain and suffering they were dealt with? These were some of the questions people began asking. This gave rise to a new movement, one titled Existentialism.
This philosophy found many propagators in the form of Camus, Sartre, all of whom tried to come up with their own answers, Rosencrantz and guildenstern existentialism essay the existential questions.
Many plays novels and the literature that came up during that time dealt with such themes; the nature and meaning of existence. Closely linked with the philosophy of existentialism is the theory of Absurdism.
Absurdism tries to seek inherent meaning and value in life. Universal truth is very vast and often incomprehensible to mankind. They often perceive an apparent meaninglessness in the lives which humans occupy.
They believe that all efforts to find meaning may fail, either because of the unfathomable vastness of the universe, or simply because no answer might exist.
Existential philosopher Jean Paul Sartre in his book Being and Nothingness talks about individual identity. He states that one must realize that their existence and the formal projection of self are distinctly separate. This inability of theirs to separate their existence from their identity is what causes them to have existential issues when they are not on stage.
When they are in the wings of the stage, they are no longer fulfilling a social role, their identity ceases to matter because of which their existence loses its importance.
Offstage, they are seen grappling with existential questions such as what is their purpose? And why do they exist? Their existence is so deeply entrenched in who they are and their social roles, that once offstage, they do not understand the purpose of their existence. So much so that they cannot even seem to remember where they came from, what their childhood was like or what exactly are they doing in this universe.
But the moment they are on stage, they have roles to fulfill and suddenly everything makes sense to them once again. But the philosophy that resonates through the strongest is that of Absurdism.
Camus viewed life as being absurd and meaningless. A tragic disharmony and incompatibility in our existence which occurs because we try to find meaning in it, when there is none. This aspect is seen internalized by the characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. While in the wings, they are lost for a purpose of existence.
They try to make their life mean something, and try to find meaning in their surroundings. This leads to a disharmony within them. This discontent is further echoed by their environmental surrounding. This disharmony and absurdism which is often associated with life, is seen incorporated by Stoppard in the environmental setting and in the identity of the characters.
As the play progresses, their questions regarding the purpose of their existence remain unanswered, unnerving them.
So much so that they themselves cannot remember which one of them is Rosencrantz and which one Guildenstern. The purposelessness of their existence and the corresponding deterioration can be seen reflected in their behavior and speech. Accepting the absurdness of their situation and their life, they decide to go along with it, rather than try to make sense of it.
This point is beautifully conveyed by Stoppard through the segment of the play; where Rosencrantz and Guildenstern decide to talk to each other only in questions. This leads forth to an absurd conversation where the other is simply responding, without really having heard the question posed.
The setting of the play, the language used, the speeches of these two stock characters, all work together to convey the absurdness and complexity that life is. This complexity becomes part of the identities of these two characters who seem as confused and lost in their identities, as the purpose of their existence.
Isolation is another important feature in this play.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are isolated from the rest of the world and people, as they are the only ones who seem to have lost their sense of identity.
All the other characters, be it Hamlet, Polonius, Claudius or the play actors, they all seem to be sure in their identity and their purpose. They become a stark contrast to the two protagonists who, as the play progresses seem to lose their identity all together, not remembering who they are.Lee 1 L Vivian Lee 李思辰 Final Paper A Metatheater: Tom Stoppard‟s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead R&G‟s Confinement within the play Extracted from characters and plots in Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a play curbed by Shakespeare‟s script.
The ideas of existentialism are shown in the play through unstable identities, uncertain knowledge of the past, and anti-heroes which lead to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s ultimate fate – their feared deaths. Stoppard's absurd comedy, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a transformation of the Shakespeare's revenge tragedy Hamlet.
They both contain common characters and events but are separated by their historical, social and literary contexts.
From this, it can be concluded that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead actually represents existentialist themes clearly and portrays Ros and Guil as antiheroes of existentialism.
Where as Sartre’s existentialist heroes can take responsibilities for their action and are measured in what they do in life, Ros and Guil cannot.
Existentialism and absurdism in Tom Stoppard's play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead, with a small comparison to Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Essay In the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard there are many different themes that can be gleaned from the playoff of Hamlet.
One of the main themes is the concept of fate.