Transformation: Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead

Essay by keshalaHigh School, 12th grade August 2004

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The text Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead (Ragad) written by playwright Tom Stoppard in the 1960s is a transformation of Shakespeare's canonical play Hamlet. Ragad is not merely just a reproduction of Hamlet but it creates an entirely new meaning to Shakespeare's play. Tom Stoppard raises contextual issues, which are evident in his play such as the externalist view of life, the convention and radical theatre; sixteenth century theatre in comparison to Absurd theatre, tragedy and tragi- comedy of the common man, language to elucidate a new meaning that he wishes to communicate. The context and values of the two societies are significantly different, the manner in which issues are dealt with, language, style of the play in Ragad consequently adds to the responder's greater understanding of Hamlet.

In the 1960s, Stoppard brings back to life Hamlet with Ragad, he takes two minor characters who were offstage in Hamlet, become onstage.

The non-naturalistic onstage world of Ragad is paradoxically to the world of Hamlet, acts as a link to Hamlet. The world of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are different to the one in Hamlet, where they were minor characters, "two adders fanged", the world they live in Ragad have different natural laws and experiences to that present in Hamlet. These two characters struggle with finding their place in the universe and the meaning and purpose of life this is extenuated by gambling and the philosophical discussion of chance and determinism "there are logic at work - it's all done for you"; without a script Rosencrantz and Guildenstern would be lost. Whilst in comparison Hamlet had direction and reason in his life, God. The differences in the philosophies of life in the two plays are important in understanding the transformation of Hamlet in Ragad.

Life in the sixteenth...