Saturday, March 29, 2014

First Thoughts on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

I haven't even finished the first act of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, but some apparent themes are showing up and I have really enjoyed the play so far.  One thing that was immediately apparent is the play's self-consciously fictional aspect.  R & G begin by discussing their impossible run of coin tosses (101 heads, or a probability of just under 1/2,500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000), which Guildenstern amusingly attributes to "un-, sub- or supernatural forces."  This line is supposed to remind us (or at least it reminded me) that indeed such forces are at work because the play is a piece of fiction.  A lot of R & G's confusion seems to arise from this: there is a sense of impending doom, and confusing, out-of-context events keep happening to them that only make sense with respect to parts of the play (I mean Hamlet) that they never get to see.  Their confusion, and the ridiculous, artificial and improbable nature of much of the plot (as represented by the coin tosses) all contribute to a sense of absurdity and pointlessness, which reflect R & G's role as buffoons and minor characters in Hamlet.

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