Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead "How has the composer of the contemporary text used the earlier text to say something new?"

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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, written in the 1960s by playwright Tom Stoppard, is a transforation of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Stoppard effectively relocates Shakespeare's play to the 1960s by reassessing and revaluating the themes and characters of Hamlet and considering core values and attitudes of the 1960s- a time significantly different to that of Shakespeare. He relies on the audience's already established knowledge of Hamlet and transforms a revenge tragedy into an Absurd drama, which shifts the focus from royalty to common man. Within Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Stoppard uses a play within a play to blur the line that defines reality, and in doing so creates confusion both onstage- with his characters, and offstage- with the audience. Using these techniques, Stoppard is able make a statement about his society, creating a play that reflected the attitudes and circumstances of the 1960s, therefore making it more relevant and relatable to the audiences of that time.

The transformation of a Shakespearean Revenge Tragedy into an Absurd Drama means a considerable change in structure from a well-structured and rigid format, into a chaotic and formless play. Stoppard deliberately alters the configuration of the play to create a confusing atmosphere, which creates the exact feeling of society in the 1960s- no definites or certainties to rely on. Language portrays meaning in both plays- the language of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead differs to that of Hamlet. Stoppard employs meaningless colloquial exchanges, such as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's question game, which strongly contrasts to Shakespearean elaborate and poetic verse, as seen throughout the play, especially in Hamlet's soliloquies- "There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow." This is thoughtful and philosophical. Stoppard's use of language further extends the idea of purposelessness and insignificance.

Stoppard brings two relatively insignificant characters for Hamlet...