Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead: Fate

Topics: Player, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Players Pages: 4 (1251 words) Published: April 1, 2010
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Essay

In the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard there are many different themes that can be gleaned from the playoff of Hamlet. One of the main themes is the concept of fate. Fate, as defined by Random House Dictionary, is: something that unavoidably befalls a person (Fate). Rosencrantz and Guildenstern constantly deal with fate. It seems that they do not quite understand what this is. When discussing who dies with the Players Guildenstern asks, “Who decides?” to which the Player replies promptly, “Decides? It is written” (80). The player appears surprised that Guildenstern does not already comprehend that death, and the life before it is not something that is decided by each individual. Even so, there are several allusions to fate throughout the play, and it's apparent hold on the characters. After all, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have a general understanding of fate, what it is, and the fact that though they may not have believed in it before it appears to be acting upon them now. In the beginning of the play the two play a coin game in which one of them flips a coin. If it lands on heads, Rosencrantz gets it, if tails then it goes to Guildenstern. The coin came up heads every time, for more than sixty flips and Guildenstern examines the law of averages. He says, “. . .if six monkeys were thrown up in the air for long enough they would land on their tails about as often as they would land on their---” to which Rosencrantz ironically responds, “Heads” (13). Guildenstern then postulates as to the reason for this failure of the law of averages. He gives four different explanations saying, “One: I'm willing it. . .Two: time has stopped dead, and the single experience of one coin being spun once has been repeated ninety times. . .Three: divine intervention. . .Four: a spectacular vindication of the principle [probability]” (16). This is an example of...
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