Saturday, April 18, 2015

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Offstage

When we were discussing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, we talked about how the novel follows what happens when, in Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are "offstage". Ms. Quinet commented that you would expect Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to be doing something more interesting when they're offstage than flipping a coin like fifty times.

I thought that this observation was interesting because it implies that characters have a life outside of the lines that have been written about them. This idea brought to my mind a scene in The Fault in our Stars when Hazel Grace, the main character, meets the author of her favorite book. She asks him about what happens to the characters when the book ends, and he responds that they are just characters and that they do, in fact, not exist outside of the book. It's a bit of a disheartening scene because as readers we like to imagine that our favorite characters really do exist and that they live just like us.

3 comments:

Iris Mire said...

For me, this brought to mind the infamous Harry Potter epilogue. The epilogue is highly controversial because it wraps up all the loose ends that Rowling had had woven through the books. In tying everything up so nicely, Rowling relegates her works more to the realm of fairytale and fiction rather than letting her readers imagine a future for the kids. Instead, she tells them that the story ends and exactly how it ends. It is uncomfortable knowing and being reminded that characters and books are not real. We get attached to characters and relate to them so that when we once again realize their imaginary nature, we are sad and uncomfortable.

Joe D said...

I definitely agree, Isabel. I believe you and I could both attest to the fact that we really can't accept internally that Harry Potter does not exist outside of Rowling's pages. Today, though, media are making it harder and harder to make the distinction between character and human being via movies, games based on books/movies, etc. by applying a face to a character, it makes it even harder for people to divorce fiction from reality. It even leads us to wanting to be our beloved characters (I can freely admit to imaginary light-saber fighting as a young boy), as seen in Midnight's Children's scene with the Gadhi-walla movies.

Tiffany Tavassoli said...

The idea that was explored in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern about how the characters know that they are simply characters and that they were created is like Isabel mentioned somewhat disheartening. When I think of characters in a book that know they were created and that are aware that they are real, it makes them very questionable which is of course is what Stoppard is trying to point out. Readers tend to always automatically assume that the characters in a novel are unaware of that they are merely characters, and for this reason, readers tend to trust and believe everything that the character recounts or does. When characters like Ros and Guil openly acknowledge their state, they make themselves less credible, and the reader becomes just as lost as the characters. In your typical novel, I think that readers immediately fall for their characters, and therefore, do not question anything, which is what Stoppard is trying to call attention to and make people realize.