Existentialism In Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead

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Existentialism: an interesting, odd, confusing concept. However, those three words are what existentialism is. It is the theory and approach to life that looks at the person as an indivual, not as a whole society of people. Some of the most well-known existentialists deny that they are existentialists (Corbett). Often, people don't realize the way that they think, write, or speak is existential. Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is an existentialist play. A core value of existentialists is that there is no absolute certainty. People never know what is coming next. They don't know what to expect. The play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, is full of uncertainty. Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and other characters, never…show more content…
They believe that "You feel anxiety because you recognize that you and you alone are responsible for your actions." (Panza, 2). These decisions impact the rest of people's lives because through these decisions, they are creating a path for the rest of their life. "Your smallest action sets off another somewhere else, and is set off by it." (Stoppard, 34). Guildenstern knows the influence that actions have on the rest of one's life, which is why he tries to explain to Rosencrantz that Hamlet's actions mean something more. The decisions that Hamlet is making and the actions that he is taking are being analyzed by Guildenstern and Rosencrantz. Existential philosopher Albert Camus explains in "The Myth of Sisyphus" how actions and decisions can affect the rest of someone's life. "You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is being exerted toward accomplishing nothing." (Camus, ????). Camus explains that Sisyphus' actions brought him the penalty that he now has for the rest of his life, he brought the penalty among himself because of "…[H]is hatred of death, and his passion for life...". In his work, "The Myth of Sisyphus", Camus discusses exactly what Guildenstern is trying to…show more content…
The same. ROS. How do you know? GUIL. You just told me-how do you know?" (Stoppard, 95). As they argue about how much they each were paid by the King, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are arguing about the answer to a simple question that would seem to have one definite answer. However, as an existentialist piece of work, the arguing makes sense because there are no answers. The only answers are the ones that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern choose to believe. Soren Kierkegaard, an existential philosopher explains in the essay "The Road is How" how some people may travel the same road, but they will all travel it differently. "Worldly wisdom is very willing to deceive by answering correctly the question, 'Where is the road?' While life's true task is omitted, that spiritually understood the road is: how it is walked." (Kierkegaard, 57). Kierkegaard describes that, although the answer to the question seems obvious, the only real answer to the question is the answer that each traveler chooses. In the case of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the answer to the question of how much they are being paid is simple, however, the answer is what Rosencrantz and Guildenstern make of
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