Good morning. Today I am here to talk to you about the historical, cultural and social contexts in which a text is created. Two texts which reflect these contexts are Shakespeare's Hamlet and Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. As you are aware these are the two texts we have been studying this term. Both show many of the same ideals and values and even themes, but today I am going to focus mainly on R&G and the theme of purpose.
R&G was written by Tom Stoppard from 1964 to 66 and has many references to the events that occurred in this decade. The Sixties was a decade of revolution and freedom within both America and Britain. Young people started to question traditional ideas about the need to struggle and compete in society and as a result, the 'Hippie' movement ensued. One of the main reasons for this new found relaxed attitude was that there was a constant threat of nuclear attack from the Soviet Union.
People began to question their purpose and certainty of life and as a result decided to make the most of it while still here. Experimentation with not only sex, drugs and religion occurred, but also new literary techniques such as satire and absurdism happened. Stoppard's play is a result of this new way of thinking.
As a result of these events and ideas, Stoppard's play incorporates many of these themes in its construction. If we break it down we see comments on traditional theatre, political stances and even the meaning of life. This idea of purpose is one that has utmost prominence in R&G. Rosencrantz and especially Guildenstern struggle to find meaning in their lives as a result of their inability to find anything with a point or significance. They seem to ask "What's...