The transformation of Hamlet into Rosencrantz and Guilden are Dead and themes that were explored by both plays.

Essay by seikenA, July 2003

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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead is a play written in 1967 by Tom Stoppard. He took two minor characters from Shakespeare's Hamlet and transformed them into the main characters of his play to explore the concept of fate, social corruption and verisimilitude in a modern fashion. This latter play, written almost three hundred years later, has changed the way the two characters in the original text have been viewed forever.

While Shakespeare uses a style marked by soliloquies, metaphoric and catachresis to explore themes that are universal and timeless, Stoppard uses a style marked by Absurd Theatre, pun, and slapstick humor to convey his themes more entertainingly and appealing to modern audience.

The common theme of fate and destiny is examined in both plays as a reflection of the society that has lost control of their life. Stoppard demonstrated this theme through the use of ironic and absurd situations.

The first scene of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead illustrates this theme through the ludicrous incident of tossing a coin that lands heads ninety-two times consecutively. Not only is these scene absurd, it is also ironic in the sense that the audience already knew, through Stoppard's use of title, that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern will ultimately lose their heads. Other incidents such as the meeting of the players "perfect! A lucky thing we came a long" and Guildenstern ironic comment "till events have played themselves out..." when we know what the event must lead for them. This idea was furthermore enforced as suggestions shows that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are caught up in the events of Hamlet. This is shown through Stoppard synthesis of modern colloquial language when they are alone with intellectual Shakespearean's speech when they participate in the roles of Hamlet. The instantaneous change of language enforces that they have...