Describe the way in which Tom Stoppard appropriates themes, characters and ideas from Shakespeare's Hamlet in his modern play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Essay by salsagalHigh School, 12th grade May 2002

download word file, 3 pages 3.3

Downloaded 156 times

Tom Stoppard has appropriated the classic Shakespearean play Hamlet in his own play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. What was once a traditionally structured play revolving around important characters such as Kings and Queens has become an absurdist play about ordinary men. The concentration on characters is reversed and the minor characters become major fixtures, when, not only does Stoppard adapt ideas and form from Hamlet, he also takes two small, irrelevant characters and creates a stage only for them. We see what has happened offstage in Hamlet onstage in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Stoppard has taken the themes and characters in Hamlet and related them to modern society.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead represents more than simply a new backdrop and modern language to Hamlet as it shows an entirely different representation of the events that occurred, and transforms Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from two manipulative characters into doomed, manipulated men.

While Hamlet has a formal, traditional structure, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead has a more modern and unrestrictive format. This relates to the difference in the two different societies the authors belonged to and wrote for. Shakespeare's audience would have expected to be entertained by a spectacular story with certain conventions, whereas in Stoppard's time the people enjoy a challenging and original play.

Stoppard has transformed Hamlet, a revered literary masterpiece by a playwright idolised by our society into a joke. The major characters in Hamlet are the royal family of Denmark. This is considered to be the highest social position in society, yet in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead these important people are reduced into absurd characters who make unexpected entrances and exits and, on the whole, don't make much sense whatsoever. The audience are unable to relate to them at all, and they appear...