Thursday, February 28, 2013

Is England Real?

At NOCCA, we read the Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. And at one point in the book, the central character, Antoinette, discusses England. She says that she does not know if England exists or not. People have told her much about it, but she has never seen it for herself, so she has no way of knowing if it exists. So when I was reading Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Rosencrantz says that he does not believe in England to which Guildenstern responds that "You don't believe in anything till it happens." (108) I thought it was interesting that the two novels written in the same year (1966) express the same idea that there's no way of knowing if something is real, even if you've heard so much about the place, except by seeing it with your own eyes.

4 comments:

Cassidy George said...

I also thought that was an interesting point. "A conspiracy of cartographers". How do we know that countries are really where they are geographically supposed to be? We identify space and location based on maps, which are visual representations of supposed reality. It also made me think of other quotes in the novel where G and R say claim that all we have to believe is what other people tell us. We are told that England is where it is, are shown a map, and automatically accept that as truth. But what if it's not?

Madeline Davis said...

Well Cassidy's point just blew my mind and made me question everything I've ever been told. But I think that might be the point. I enjoyed the line, "a conspiracy of cartographers" because it seems to point out the flaw in humans automatically accepting what we are told. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern continually fall into this trap throughout the play, faithfully accepting their duties as they are presented to them and ten getting frustrated when they feel their lives are losing purpose. I feel that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's fear of questioning what they are told highlights humanity's tendency to limit their happiness by taking the easy route and accepting what they are told, rather than asking for explanations and making their own, albeit more difficult, choices and defining their own purposes.

Austin Falk said...

This is very interesting. We did talk in class about how Tom Stoppard was often criticized for copying other authors work and putting his own spin on it. An example was that he stole ideas from one of Samuel Beckett's plays. This may very well be another example of Stoppard's copying. From Lindsay's comment, it is pretty clear that the idea of England not being real is not original.

Laura N said...

I think questioning the existence of England, among other things in the play, exemplify post-modernism. I think post-modern philosophy on the nature of reality says that each individual creates their own reality from their perception of the world. So if someone has never been to England, they may deny its existence simply because they havent experienced it yet; therefore it may or may not be real. You can choose to beleive others about the existence or nature of a thing, or you can find out about it through your personal experiecence.