Questioning the Identity and Purpose in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the predominant characters in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, are defined unceasingly by questioning their identity, environment, and what their believed purpose is. This astounding piece of literary work written by Tom Stoppard shows the trek that the two characters (originally from Hamlet written by the well known English poet, William Shakespeare) make to Denmark in hopes to help Hamlet. What is the purpose of their journey though? In moving to Denmark Rosencrantz and Guildenstern come to the realization that their physical journey is not solely about the tangible movement. Rather it represents the idea how everything will eventually come to an end including both life and time, so if everything is predetermined what is the purpose?

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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern incessantly question their purpose in life which eventually leads to several conclusions that have no significance towards their purpose. The old friends of Hamlet are often described as opposites of each other, Rosencrantz is viewed as immature, irresponsible, goofy, and comical while Guildenstern is solemn, inquisitive, and mature. We notice from the very beginning that several conversations they have are repetitive because Rosencrantz merely answers Guildenstern’s thought provoking questions with a statement or another question. From the gecko Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are flipping a coin and they make a bet each time. By surprise Rosencrantz consistently wins by choosing heads ninety-three times in a row. Guildenstern is extremely confused and skeptical about the entire situation. Due to the law of probability which is defined by Merriam Webster as the measurable likeness of something occurring Guildenstern is unable to accept the idea that this is occurring by chance while Rosencrantz has no issue with the situation. Essentially they transform a silly coin toss into something with philosophical meaning. From this coin toss they begin to believe that it is futile because in the end there will have been no purpose for anything if everything is predetermined.

Unremittingly in a confused state of mind Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have queries about their purpose. The two at the castle in Elsinore begin to forget why they had come there in the first place besides the fact they were sent for. The cloudiness in their memory causes them to go in a state of mind where reality is absurd. In search of answers only more questions arise. Prior to interacting with Hamlet they try to play a game to determine what is happening remove and subsequent to speaking with the Prince he outsmarts the two fools. This drawls back to their original question why are they even there? Perpetually we notice other characters have difficulty differentiating Rosencrantz and Guildenstern even reaching the point where they are so disoriented they confuse their own names. Their journey continues onward and the question of their existence and inescapable fate is still being asked

Additionally, when the tragedians perform the famous tragedy Hamlet which unveils their fate they remain oblivious and confused. Despite recognizing that two actors act similarly to them they are unable to connect the dots that in all reality it’s them in the play. Unable to recognize the significance of the play they continue to feel detached from their lives. From the perspective of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern they have predicted the future so precisely including the downfall of the royal family, the death of themselves, and the fate of several other protagonists. It is not until the moment that they are about to face death by being hung that they accept that death is inevitable. Although as human beings we cannot completely blame them in being unaware that death is bound to occur because we have all had that moment of realization, and all we can do at that point is to accept it. Regardless of how long it took them their apprehension of fate they develop as individual characters.

Nevertheless, all the events that occured based on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s choices lead them to the same exact end result that they were going to reach eventually. At first they were heading to Denmark for Hamlet and along the way their desire to find out who they are and what their purpose is overtakes the plot of the piece. Readers long for the duo to comprehend that death is inevitable and it takes all the experiences in between for them to reach that conclusion. The physical journey ultimately represents how humankind struggle with rationalizing that we are all born to die at some point, and having an ending that is so obscure makes it difficult for people to accept reality and continue living their life to the fullest or until it is too late.

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