Hamlet with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

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How has your perception of Transformations been illuminated by your comparative study of the prescribed texts?

When studying transformations it is important to account for the historical, social and religious contexts of the times in which the two writers, William Shakespeare and Tom Stoppard, lived. Both men, as contemporary writers, were reflections of their society’s values. By comparing the contrasting and similar aspects presented to the reader in these texts, it raises many questions which can change your perspective on the meaning of transformations altogether.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet was written in a time of Elizabethan values. The most important value was one of absolute devotion to divinity. This devotion shaped religious thought and the ideas of fate and destiny and the search for meaning contrast greatly to Stoppard’s views which were defined by Existentialist philosophy.

Stoppard’s Existentialist philosophy focused on individual freedom and the choice of direction in life with less limited possibilities. These two contrasting societal values significantly influence the perception of the reader when studying how they are ‘transformed.’ An example of the religious differences is the ideals and beliefs on death. In Hamlet death is portrayed as violent and dramatic with examples including poisoning and sword fights (dueling). Because of his beliefs, Stoppard raises the possibility that death is not an event that leads to judgement by the divine beliefs of Elizabethan Christianity. This is portrayed through Guildenstern when he describes death as “simple failing to re-appear”. This comparison shows the uncertainty of death, and through this transformation we come to the perception that death is a mystery to us all, no matter what beliefs or era you may live in.

The ideas of fate and destiny between the two respective texts are starkly different. Hamlet, in his belief of meaning for life, believes that we are guided by fate as he quotes: “there is...
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