Transformation: Hamlet And Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead

941 words - 4 pages

The text Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead (Ragad) written by playwright Tom Stoppard in the 1960s is a transformation of Shakespeare's canonical play Hamlet. Ragad is not merely just a reproduction of Hamlet but it creates an entirely new meaning to Shakespeare's play. Tom Stoppard raises contextual issues, which are evident in his play such as the externalist view of life, the convention and radical theatre; sixteenth century theatre in comparison to Absurd theatre, tragedy and tragi- comedy of the common man, language to elucidate a new meaning that he wishes to communicate. The context and values of the two societies are significantly different, the manner in which issues are dealt with, language, style of the play in Ragad consequently adds to the responder's greater understanding of Hamlet.In the 1960s, Stoppard brings back to life Hamlet with Ragad, he takes two minor characters who were offstage in Hamlet, become onstage. The non-naturalistic onstage world of Ragad is paradoxically to the world of Hamlet, acts as a link to Hamlet. The world of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are different to the one in Hamlet, where they were minor characters, "two adders fanged", the world they live in Ragad have different natural laws and experiences to that present in Hamlet. These two characters struggle with finding their place in the universe and the meaning and purpose of life this is extenuated by gambling and the philosophical discussion of chance and determinism "there are logic at work - it's all done for you"; without a script Rosencrantz and Guildenstern would be lost. Whilst in comparison Hamlet had direction and reason in his life, God. The differences in the philosophies of life in the two plays are important in understanding the transformation of Hamlet in Ragad.Life in the sixteenth century was structured, one was born, distinct meaning and a reason for life and then ultimately one will die. Whether you were the son of a cobbler or the King there was a purpose in life to be a good son and cobbler or to maintain order and protect the empire respectively. The sixties in contrast is paradox in comparison. Life was filled with questions, existence at present had no purpose, "The only beginning is birth, the only end is death" this is reminiscent of the existentialist absolute. Existentialism is an 'individuals existence in an unfathomable universe' where the space between birth and death is filled as Stoppard elucidates to be through word games, Stichomythia -rapid fire interplay with dialogue, puns Guil. "Unless we are off course"/ Ros. "Of course", clichés "the toe nails on the other hand". Rosencrantz and Guildenstern represent societies beliefs. Their cross purpose dialogue, the questions that never have answers, highlight their lack of direction and understanding, contrastingly, Hamlet had answers to these questions; "Is there a God, Life...

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