Guildenstern's bag is nearly empty.
Rosencrantz's bag is nearly full.
|Sets the mood of the play from the beginning. Defines Rosencrantz as the optimist, and Guildenstern as, if not the pessimist, then at least the realist.|
|Guil.||The scientific approach ... is a defence against the pure emotion of fear.||After this quote Ros. starts rambling about beards. Emphasises the distinction between the two characters - Guil. is nervous about his situation and tries to rationalise it with scientific method, Ros. is unconcerned: "what will happen, will happen".|
You've been here before.
And I know which way the wind is blowing.
|"Operating on two levels! How clever!" exclaims Rosencrantz, and it is quite true: the Player, for a while at least, knows what will happen and how the situation will turn out.|
|Player||Events must play themselves out to asthetic, moral, and logical conclusion.||A comment on plays in general, this also foreshadows the conclusions of "Hamlet".|
|Guil.||We drift down time, clutching at straws ... but what good's a brick to a drowning man?||IE, hope is vital, but to be told exactly what will happen next is deadly. To know that he has no control over what happens next would be destroy Guil. - which is why he is so desparate to keep the level of spontaneity high.|
Setting: "a place without any visible character"
Characters: R&G - two aspects of one person?
Interchangeable, interdependent but alone.
Ros. - Reality? Earthier, confused, reactive, obtuse.
Guil. - Illusion? Intellectual, cultured, abstract, poetic, philosophical, insecure, questioning.
Both show self-awareness of the way things are in the human condition and they "tragically" realise they cannot alter the way things are. The play consists of R&G's quasi-philosophical speculation about why they are here and what their death will be like.
Structure: Three acts, intertextuality of Hamlet, what is the climax? (Guil. "killing" the player?) Boat scene / sea travel a theme that helps the central theme of directionlessness
Themes: Self-awareness, death-awareness, fortune / destiny, acting, mirror on art, art vs life, self-identity, existentialist philosophy, uncertainty of man's origin, unpredictability of life, lack of control, fate / chance, inaction / filling in time with words / poor communication / poor connections with people (Beats, pauses, ambiguity), futility of human activity causes characters to abandon hope of any significant action, marking time / passing time, purposelessness, failing memory, conflict of real world and illusion, role-playing in life, man's isolation, life is a mystery, the only certainty is death.
Language: Blank verse / prose, simple / complex, confused, ambiguous, frequent references to fate ('wheels' in the "wheels within wheels" quote), rhetorical questions, repetitions, witty banter / repartee (comic routine) short / long passages, word games, biblical references, references to literature, echoes of the Hamlet text, breakdown of language / communication, Act 3 (short and preoccupied with death - the end is near)
Player: Contrast in philosophies to R&G, sardonic, unquestioning, accepting, he mirrors the conflict between real world and illusion, real, assertive, self-assured, confident, never unclear about his identity ("Relax ... respond.")
Dramatic Techniques: Intertextuality of Hamlet, self-conscious use of stage (actors go down to footlights, bring in audience to identify with R&G's dilemma, Hamlet spitting in the audience (can he change his destiny?)), dumb-show, role-playing, pratfall, body movement, coin tossing, experiments, lighting / blackout, music (drums / flutes - suspense - in the constant Players' tune), sets (unreal), conjuring tricks (players in barrels), silences / pauses / beats, word games, humour, stage directions (references to directions shows awareness of being trapped in a theatrical situation).