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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Tom Stoppard

Character List

Plot Overview

Analysis of Major Characters

Rosencrantz -  A gentleman and childhood friend of Hamlet. Along with his companion, Guildenstern, Rosencrantz seeks to uncover the cause of Hamlet’s strange behavior but finds himself confused by his role in the action of the play. Rosencrantz has a carefree and artless personality that masks deep dread about his fate.

Read an in-depth analysis of Rosencrantz.

Guildenstern -  A gentleman and childhood friend of Hamlet. Accompanied by Rosencrantz, Guildenstern tries to discover what is plaguing Hamlet as well as his own purpose in the world. Although frequently disconcerted by the world around him, Guildenstern is a meditative man who believes that he can understand his life.

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The Player -  The leader of the traveling actors known as the Tragedians. The Player is an enigmatic figure. His cunning wit and confident air suggest that he knows more than he is letting on. The impoverished state of his acting troupe makes him eager to please others, but only on his own terms.

Read an in-depth analysis of The Player.

Tragedians -  A group of traveling male actors. The Tragedians specialize in melodramatic and sensationalistic performances, and they are willing to engage in sexual entertainments if the price is right.
Hamlet -  The prince of Denmark and a childhood friend of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Hamlet is thrown into a deep personal crisis when his father dies and his uncle takes the throne and marries Hamlet’s mother. Hamlet’s strange behavior confuses the other characters, especially Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Claudius -  Hamlet’s uncle and the new king of Denmark. Claudius is a sinister character who tries to exploit the friendship between Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern and Hamlet to learn what Hamlet believes about the king’s marriage to Gertrude.
Gertrude -  Hamlet’s mother and the queen of Denmark. Although she has disgraced herself by marrying Claudius so soon after her husband’s death, Gertrude does seem to care for Hamlet’s well-being and sincerely hopes that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern can help her son.
Polonius -  A member of the Danish court and adviser to Claudius. Polonius is a shifty man, willing to interrogate Hamlet and even spy on him to learn what he wants to know.
Ophelia -  The daughter of Polonius and Hamlet’s former beloved. Ophelia spends the play in a state of shock and anguish as a result of Hamlet’s bizarre conduct.
Laertes -  The son of Polonius and brother of Ophelia. Laertes does not appear in the action of the play, but his corpse appears in the final scene.

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