An Analysis Of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead

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Coming into His Own: The Actor in Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard's best-known and first major play, appeared initially as an amateur production in Edinburgh, Scotland, in August of 1966. Subsequent professional productions in London and New York in 1967 made Stoppard an international sensation and three decades and a number of major plays later Stoppard is now considered one of the most important playwrights in the latter half of the twentieth century. Recognized still today as a consistently clever and daring comic playwright, Stoppard startled and captivated audiences for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead when he retold the story of Shakespeare's Hamlet as an absurdist-like farce, focusing on the point of view of two of the famous play's most insignificant characters. In Shakespeare's play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are little more than plot devices, childhood friends summoned by King Claudius to probe Hamlet's bizarre
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But rather than being just a farce or a burlesque with a single objective, the play turns out to be about multiple visions or perceptions, illustrated by the characters and events of the play, at one level, leading to the climax- that of Puff’s own illusion of The Spanish Armada as a great tragedy contrasted with Sheridan presenting it as it really is- merely a distorted vision of tragic drama- one arrives at the final confrontation of two major perceptions: one stated and one, implied; there are now two ‘realities’ at once, one filtered through the other. Sheridan made Puff’s The Spanish Armada a tragedy instead of a comedy, through which he laughs at the slavish employment of stock devices and scolds those who strive
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