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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead versus Hamlet Essay

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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, written in the 1960s by playwright Tom Stoppard, is a transforation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Stoppard effectively relocates Shakespeare’s play to the 1960s by reassessing and revaluating the themes and characters of Hamlet and considering core values and attitudes of the 1960s- a time significantly different to that of Shakespeare. He relies on the audience’s already established knowledge of Hamlet and transforms a revenge tragedy into an Absurd drama, which shifts the focus from royalty to common man. Within Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Stoppard uses a play within a play to blur the line that defines reality, and in doing so creates confusion both onstage- with his characters, and offstage-…show more content…
Stoppard brings two relatively insignificant characters for Hamlet into focus in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Common man into the ‘spotlight’, as he represented the majority of society- 1960s’ audiences were interested in characters that they could empathize with and relate to. By focussing on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Stoppard brings offstage Hamlet onstage. This change in orientation gives audiences a new perspective on Hamlet and a different interpretation of Shakespeare’s most famous play.

The themes of Man’s ability to take action, as well as Destiny and Death in Hamlet, are maintained in Stoppard’s play, but he brings into the text an awareness and understanding of his society, and through these themes, explores different values that were inherent in the 1960s. Man’s ability to take action is an individual’s willingness to accept responsibility for his actions and take control of his life. In Hamlet, Shakespeare uses his characters to show the power a man has when he accepts his purpose, which was preordained by God. Stoppard revises this Elizabethan value through the portrayal of his characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who refuse to take an active role in the running of their life. He reflects on the differences between the societies, and demonstrates the confusion and conflicting beliefs and attitudes of the 1960s as shown in Stoppard’s characters that, out of complete
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