Comparitive Study "Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead" And "Hamlet"

1099 words - 4 pages

Yr 12 Advanced English - TransformationsYou have studied two texts composed at different times.When you compared these texts and their contexts, how was your understanding of each text developed and reshaped?Hamlet has and will continue to offer to its audience insight into valid and necessary values and concepts. However, one must acknowledge that Hamlet has emerged from a specific context with specific values, that of Elizabethan theatre. Stoppard's "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" (R&G) offers the contemporary audience that very same insight; however it is expressed in a way that invokes greater understanding and appreciation in its re-contextualisation. R&G utilises the inspiration of the old, in conjunction with ideas, practices and concepts deriving from the new context.The respective historical contexts in which Hamlet and R&G were written, effectively shape the form and meaning they encapsulate. Hamlets hunger for certainty before executing any decisive act mirrors the emergence of individualism within the Elizabethan context. Accordingly, the lack of distinctive features of time and place in R&G reflect the growing sense of rootlessness within 20th century society. The play is analogous to the contemporary state of being acting as a metaphor for the disconnection from the values of the past and the rejection of tradition arising within the 1960s. This is most blatantly reflected in Ros and Guil's references to economics rather than metaphysics such as their discussion on "the law of diminishing returns". Consequently, the play is largely more relevant to present day society, enhancing one's understanding and appreciation of the original play.While the stability of Hamlet is disrupted by the ghost, the stability of R&G is interrupted by the breaking of the laws of probability when Rosencrantz's (Ros) coin insists on coming down heads. R&G iconoclastically subverts the concept of intellectual progress by making fun of the value we place on mathematical and economic laws; "It must be indicative of something". Stoppard attempts to question whether the beliefs of contemporary society are any less superstitious than those of Shakespeare's time. Stoppard interprets the values instilled in Hamlet and transforms them into a manner more relevant to contemporary society enhancing the ability of his audience to recognise these values and more effectively apply them within their own context.Stoppard puts into question the power which society attributes to art, theatre, Hamlet and other literary pieces. R&G in its references to theatre is iconoclastic degrading the status to which it is attributed. "The great homicidal classics? Matri, patri, fratri, sorori, uxori..." This is accentuated further by the diametrical use of language in the respective plays. R&G's use of comical, colloquial language is in direct contrast to the rhyming verse and formal prose within Hamlet. For example, Ros transforms Hamlets...

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