Compare and Contrast Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead with Waiting for Godot

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In reading Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, by Tom Stoppard, and Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett, one can see several dissimilarities between the main characters in each play. In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are the two main characters who have been summoned to complete a mission for the king. The characters in Waiting for Godot, Vladimir and Estragon, also are on a mission. Both plays revolve around the men and their relationships with each other as time passes and they attempt to accomplish their goals.

Perhaps the biggest difference between Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and the characters in Waiting for Godot is the difference in the characters' abilities to take action. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern act, they are aware that their job is determining the cause of Hamlet's madness. Later, they are given a letter and instructions to take Hamlet to England. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern accept their duty and act on it. On the other hand, Vladimir and Estragon never take action. They repeatedly talk about leaving the scene near the tree where they wait for Godot. But they never leave; they remain for days on end. Even though the play seems to cover only two days time, references are made that lead the reader to believe that they have stayed longer. For example, when the boy first comes to meet Vladimir and Estragon, Vladimir asks him if he came the day before. This leads the reader to believe that the same events have been going on for some time. This is an example of Vladimir and Estragon's lack of action.

Another contrast between the pairs of protagonists in each play concerns their relationships with one another. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exhibit a sense of friendship. They seem very close and often exhibit a physical closeness. When they are playing the coin flipping game, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern seem to have great trust for one another. The coin repeatedly lands on tails an...
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