HSC Notes: 2 Unit Related English: Tom Stoppard

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

Note that Stoppard considers this a play to be experienced rather than studied.

Useful Quotes

Character Quote Explanation
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.


To remember

Ms Fretze's "Yes Good Excellent" Learn-The-Lot Cheat Sheet

... in which my English teacher wrote down anything she could think of which might help us in the exam. Most of this is obvious, and it is not by any means complete, but there might be some things here that you've missed elsewhere.