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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Hamlet, Waiting for Godot

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: John Rhode to Jack [Morris] Rosenthal Biography

a play by Tom Stoppard, performed and published in 1966. This, the play that first established its author as a significant voice, brings to the centre of the stage the two ‘attendant lords’ from Hamlet. Beginning with a scene in which they encounter the players on their way to Elsinore, they play word-games, exchange banter and ideas, and from time to time move into the action of Shakespeare's play itself. Indeed, they come to believe themselves trapped by its—to them—inscrutable plot; and though they read the death warrant Hamlet has substituted for the one given them by Claudius, they go consciously to a fate they now feel has been pre-ordained by some hostile power beyond their understanding or control. With its emphasis on ontological bewilderment and helplessness, the play has marked similarities to Beckett's Waiting for Godot, but is written with a deft wit particular to Stoppard himself.

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