I critical response to Rosencr

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Prompt: How does Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead answer the questions: How is a man to reconcile himself to that absurd world in which he finds himself trapped? How does man relieve his loneliness and uncertainty? The response of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to this question would surely be answered with a question. However the prompt is asking how the play answers the question. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, doesn't answer the questions of an absurd world. In my opinion the play cannot and does not answer any questions; it only evokes more questions among the reader, questions of reality and existence. I believe the true intent of Tom Stoppard in writing this story is to do exactly that, force the reader to question his/her own existence. This is proven in several of the topics the characters discuss; they discuss death, dying, God, existence, faith, and morals. Stoppard's intentions may have been to make the reader question his/her own feelings towards these events and their beliefs.

He presents these questions through two main characters; these characters never seem to answer the questions that arise. They merely ask more questions. Because the story is unable to answer any question the reader may ponder, I must do what is closest to the prompt and present the question to the main characters as though it was asked in the story; thus leading to an answer that would be closest to that of Stoppard's intentions.

To present the probable response of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern if asked the question, one must first understand their inspiration and nature. The nature of the two characters is that of no direction nor determination; this nature leads them to unanswerable questions. Their questions are often moral, scientific, and even philosophical. The two would be unable to answer the question "How is man to reconcile himself to that absurd world in which he finds himself trapped." Through the characters Stoppard forces the reader to ask personal questions; he uses the characters' questions to inspire the reader's "self-discovery." Presenting this question to the characters is causing the reader to consider his own response. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's response would sure not be like that of the reader but it may encourage further questions. "Trapped by what" is a response you can almost be sure to receive from the characters. "Physical or emotional limitations" is sure to follow. This would later be accompanied by the questioning of absurdity. An "absurd world" would be the basis of all questions. The author is asking the readers to examine the world in which they exist. The existentialist side of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern would be most puzzled by this phrase, most surely Ros, being considered the "brain" of the two. Stoppard's intention is to puzzle the reader; I too am quite puzzled by this statement. Since I cannot clearly give the response I must answer the question as though Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were being asked the question. Their response would surely be a question due to their indecisive nature and lack of direction. I will attempt to make their response in a way that might be fitting to them, their philosophical beliefs and hopefully Stoppard's purpose.

To start one must first understand the brains, or lack of, behind the two indistinguishable characters. To answer the question in a way that would be particular to them, their beliefs must first be understood. Their love or admiration for philosophy is portrayed throughout the play, thus the answer for their questioning nature. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's philosophical views would be categorized as existentialist. Existentialism is a basic philosophy that states existence precedes essence; an even more elementary explination is believing in nothing but one's own existence. This belief leaves the two questioning not only their existence but the essence of life and its events. Based on this view, their answer to the question would be indisputably a question. If something can not be proved, then it can not be believed, meaning it can not exsist.

How is a man to reconcile himself to that absurd world in which he finds himself trapped? The only fitting response- What makes it an absurd world? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, or rather Stoppard would first build the foundation or infact dissolve the foundation of absurdity or an absurd world. To do this they would determine what is absurdity. How can something be absurd; who initially thought it absurd? Or is it infact not absurd but merely common? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern would surely define absurd; to do this one must first realize that something is normal. To continue in their method of exposing the flaw in the theory of absurdity, they would question normality. Normality is beyond definition because in order to determine normality a standard must be set. The standard is set in the beginning of time and who is to say the standard in the beginning was that of normality and not absurdity. One can see that to understand absurdity there must first be an understanding of normality and that can not be done because as existentialism proves, their main philosophy, existence precedes essence. Through questioning the validity of an "absurd world" Rosencrantz and Guildenstern would clearly have proven that absurd can not exist to human understanding.

Through existentialist philosophy and the views of the two characters, as shown in the play, one can determine that absurdity does not exist and if absurdity does not exist then one cannot feel trapped. A feeling of being trapped can only occur when one feels that he cannot overcome his limitations, both physical and emotional. It is improbable to believe in the conquering of limitations if they do not exist because they are not acknowledged due to their inability to be determined. Ros and Guil's doubt and question would have proven the impossibility of absurdity thus leading to the impossibility of being mentally trapped. The second question of loneliness and uncertainty is dependent on the existence of an absurd world and a feeling of being trapped which is proven nonexistent. Therefore they too cannot exist or in this case be acknowledged.

As you can see using Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's method of eradication almost all questions or theories can easily be disproved. The question everything, coming across no specific answer only more answers. The simple question "How is man to reconcile himself in that absurd world in which he finds himself trapped" can only produce more unanswered question. Ros and Guil's lack of success or even motivation can be attributed to this, their lack of answers in all instances. Stoppard's intentions, as best I understand, are to inspire the reader to question his beliefs. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern never answer the questions because that is not "self-discovery;" that would be teaching. To ask is to be educated. If one is told what and how to think then they are like these two characters- indistinguishable. Stoppard wanted us all to ask ourselves who we are and what we believe in order that we may not become like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, without direction or individuality.