Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

by: Tom Stoppard

Important Quotations Explained

Uncertainty is the normal state. You’re nobody special.

This remark, which the Player utters in Act II after reuniting with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern at Elsinore, emphasizes one of the major themes of the play—the incomprehensibility of the world. Guildenstern complains to the Player that he and Rosencrantz have no idea what is happening at Elsinore and have no clue what they should be doing there, and he hopes to relinquish to the Player the burden of having to make decisions. The Player’s cutting response in the quotation criticizes Guildenstern for believing that he is in a uniquely difficult situation. Instead, the Player suggests, doubt is a characteristic feature of human life, and it is “normal” to not understand everything that is happening around us. The play dramatizes the Player’s claim that confusion is a normal experience by depicting Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as two fairly ordinary men who are asked to perform a seemingly simple task—come talk to their childhood friend and try to cheer him up—but get overwhelmed by a disorienting string of strange occurrences and perplexing remarks. Even the most mundane situations, it seems, are fraught with complication and ambiguity.