Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

A review of Tom Stoppard’s play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

This paper discusses how Tom Stoppard’s 1967 play, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”, has been hailed as one of the great modern comedies. It looks at how, in the play, we are asked to deal with death and dying in relation to the idea that the whole thing is an act, a theater. It explores how the play is remarkable, not only for its own sake, but also for the nod it gives to the work to which it is paying homage, William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
As the play opens, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are spinning coins together. Rosencrantz keeps winning, because he always calls heads. The fact that the coin always lands on heads doesn’t seem to bother Rosencrantz, who is only excited about his new record. He feels a little bad about taking money from his friend. Guildenstern, on the other hand, is shocked at how many times heads has come up in a row. He wonders if probability exists, if they are living in an alternate world. Guildenstern is annoyed that Rosencrantz isn’t interested in his thoughts, but only interested in the fact that he has set a new record. Even in this first scene we know, from the surroundings and the happenings, that the two are living in some alternate universe. That universe is a parallel.