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Pushing The Limit Essay

2393 words - 10 pages

The inexplicable pressure to conform to societal expectations often overwhelms individuals. A person has a proclivity to distinguish him or herself from the crowd. However, social norms constrict this task. The struggle occurs when an individual attempts becoming prominent among other peers while at the same time trying not to become an outcast. Once an identity for a person has been successfully established, it becomes part of society. Distinction is only kept alive if it is sabotaged by society. After bending the rules enough, actions dictated by the mind fall back in place to how an individual is expected to act.
The same way in which societal and cultural taboos set high ...view middle of the document...

Stoppard is benevolent with the varying range of diction he uses to demarcate the difference between Shakespeare and the modern world. The shift from Contemporary to Elizabethan English and then back to Contemporary frustrates Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and demonstrates how easily Shakespeare’s world takes precedence over the play. Caught in the midst of the interaction with Gertrude and Claudius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern struggle to regain normal language:
ROS : I’m out of my step here——
GUIL : We’ll soon be home and high— dry and home— I’ll——
ROS : It’s all over my depth——
GUIL : —I’ll high you home and——
ROS : —out of my head——
GUIL : —dry you high and——
ROS (cracking, high):— over my step over my head body!— I tell you it’s all stopping to a death, it’s boding to a depth, stepping to a head, it’s all heading to a dead stop—
GUIL (the nursemaid): There!. . . . and we’ll soon be home and dry. . . and high and dry (Stoppard 37)
After being confronted by Gertrude and Claudius and forced to speak Elizabethan English, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern struggle to find the right words to fit into twentieth century phrases. The goal of this is to differentiate his play from Shakespeare’s as best he can. King writes, “This difference in languages possibly suggests the inconsistency in character between Shakespeare’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Stoppard’s. However, it also gives the audience a way to distinguish which scenes are present in Hamlet and which are not” (King 18). Stoppard realizes that with the constraints set on Ros and Guil allow for little development of Ros and Guil’s identities. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are stuck in this position that they cannot get out of. Vonwiller points out, “It is not without significant irony that Stoppard’s appropriation and reproduction of scenes from Hamlet creates an effect where the poetic language of Shakespeare’s characters makes them appear to be moving purposefully toward a tragic climax, whereas the modern colloquialism of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern shows them to be mired in inaction”(Vonwiller 6). Shakespeare had no consideration for these characters, and Stoppard highlights this important point. Even though Rosencrantz and Guildenstern temporarily had freedom to act the way they wanted, eventually they were pulled back into Hamlet and forced into a world in which they did not have a particular choice in being. This emphasizes that no individual can sway away from destiny.
The inability for Guildenstern to choose a specific prefix for the word supernatural also underlines the fact that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have no control over what happens in the world:
“GUIL:… If we postulate, and we just have, that within un-, sub- or supernatural forces the probability is...

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