Tuesday, February 26, 2013

pg 66, act II

Player: Relax. Respond. That's what people do. You can't go through life questioning your situation at every turn."
Guil: But we don't know what's going on, or what to do with ourselves. We don't know how to act.
Player: Act natural. You know why you're here at least.
Guil: We only know what we're told, and that's little enough. And for all we know, it isn't even true.
The bottom of page 66 in Act II of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead really struck me. The entire play is composed of playful banter and clever puns which often relate to the philosophy of existentialism. But this particular exchange seems to be the epitome of the existentialist view of life. Rosencrantz and Guidlenstern are indeed, actors in a play- who know nothing beyond their actions and duties regarding Hamlet. However, Stoppard uses their situation as a metaphor for human existence. We are born into a world for no apparent purpose. The only instruction we receive on how to "proceed" about our lives is provided to us by the people and environment around us. Which is both subjective and variable. Although some may seek a way to define the purpose of their life or a direction for existence, we essentially, have no purpose or guidance; we are sentenced to an existence that is absurd. Here lies the humor in the play. We laugh at Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's disorientation and confusion because we identify with the absurdity of their situation. We are living it. 

1 comment:

Laura N said...


The audience can relate to their lack of guidance and lost-ness. They fail to see the bigger picture and get tangled up in each other's word play as they discuss philosophical concepts making it even more difficult to understand the ways of the universe. They finally assuaged their fears, boredom, and purposelessness when the king gave them a task and set them down a path. They continue to struggle with their future and what they should do after they complete the task. they dont take charge or responsibilty for their own lives and choices. Life would be easier if we had a manual or a king or god or something to communicate what we should do in certain situations but we are left to our own devices, a scary, uncomfortable, overwhelming thought.