Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. What is the significance of the play that the Tragedians perform? How does it affect the audience’s understanding of Stoppard’s play as a whole?
2. How do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern develop as characters over the course of the play?
3. How does the play use foreshadowing in light of its representation of the world as essentially random and chaotic?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Shakespeare scholars have long debated whether the Hamlet of Shakespeare’s play is truly mad. How does Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead deal with the question of Hamlet’s madness? Does Stoppard present Hamlet as sane or insane? Why?
2. Does the play ultimately suggest that we can overcome the randomness of the world? Or does it advocate accepting chance into our lives?
3. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are not heroes in any traditional sense, but do they do anything that the play presents as heroic? If so, what?
4. What is the significance of the Player in the play? Why does Stoppard present him as such an enigmatic figure?
5. The play depicts Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as making a mistake when they do nothing about the letter regarding Hamlet’s death. Within the world of the play, what other options do they have? What opportunities does Stoppard give them for altering the outcomes of their lives?
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