The plays Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard and Hamlet by William Shakespeare were composed in significantly various contexts and the nature of the plays greatly reflect the context in which they were composed. Hamlet is plainly an item of the times of the early 17th century as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is an item of the Swinging Sixties as it has very modern views on lots of problems that have been raised throughout time. A common function in both plays which represented the context in which the plays were made up was the apparent pre-occupation with morality.
In Elizabethan times death was accepted more as a regular event as people did not live to be older and there was an obvious pre-occupation with the concept of mortality and the afterlife. Hamlet is no exception to this as the play is concerned with death from the start, as we find out that Hamlet’s father had actually been killed. It is not strange at all that the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears and speaks with him. This reflects the context in which it was composed. People used to be captivated by such encounters with the dead in plays and believed strongly in death and an afterlife.
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The variety of deaths that happen in Hamlet is likewise not surprising as audiences in Elizabethan times were quite pre-occupied with dying and felt comfy seeing it on stage. They also remained real to their beliefs that tragedy might only occur to famous figures. This is partially due to the unique social classes in England at the time and it was not considered a disaster so much if a peasant died. Therefore Hamlet is an item of an Elizabethan context because it is pre-occupied with death throughout the play and audiences were comfy with it due to the fact that of their strong religious beliefs.
Tom Stoppard, however, took two sideline characters from Hamlet and showed that Hamlet might be used to modern audiences over four hundred years later on. Rosencrantz nd Guildenstern, the primary characters of the play are also pre-occupied with death. The context in which Stoppard made up the play, however, presents an altered view of death. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern both spend a lot of time thinking of death and what it implies to them. They are not sure about it, and have a quite bleak perception of the entire concept.
They continue throughout the play not knowing for sure what will occur to them when they die, however they accept that they should pass away at some stage in their life. This show the context of sixties England entirely, as the trend in mindset was confusion about death. No one knew why they were on the earth and no one knew where they were going when it was all over. Religious beliefs was being questioned in the sixties, like all traditional authority figures and this comes through very highly in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. People didn’t have the guarantee as they performed in Elizabethan times with their beliefs in the afterlife.
The truth that this idea was questioned a lot in the play shows the contrast between the 2 plays and how Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead reflect the worths of the sixties. A contrasting style in the plays is identity. In Elizabethan times everyone was extremely sure of their place in the grand scheme of things and there was an unique hierarchy of social classes. The characters of Hamlet are reflections of this context to an extent, since there is a sense of order in the play with the structure of the Danish monarchy. It is a very modern play, nevertheless, and there is a sense of disorder in the immediate world of the upper class society.
This discontent is revealed from early in the play with lines such as “There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark”. Every character is clearly defined in Shakespeare’s play and nobody is confused about who they are or where they originated from. The opposite of this, nevertheless, is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in the sixties interpretation of the text. They seem to be extremely baffled about their own individuality and this can be seen frequently throughout the play when they and other characters mix their names up almost each time. The effect of this is funny, but also discuss the confusion of identity that was being felt in the Sixties.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as characters quite reflect the ideas of the Sixties in this method, as they appear to be wandering throughout the play as observers, and are minor players. They are not exactly sure about themselves, question their own identity and can not discover much function in their lives, which makes death difficult for them to understand. Due to the fact that they are such small gamers and tend not to take themselves as seriously as the standard characters such as Hamlet himself, they can quickly bring Hamlet down to a human level. They did this in the play when they rapidly flattened Hamlet’s wit.
In all these respects it is plain to see how the sixties variation of the play showed the context in which it was composed. What makes the contrast in between the 2 plays so evident is the audience that it was intended for. In Elizabethan times, audiences liked to see vengeance catastrophes and great deals of blood and guts and murder, especially amongst famous people. Hamlet is a clear item of this context as there are eight deaths in the play, which would have considerably entertained an Elizabethan audience. All people might value Shakespeare’s blank verse and took pleasure in the language utilized.
After all Shakespeare was seeming the most popular author of his day and attract as big an audience as possible. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead being made up in the Sixties is produced the theatre of the unreasonable. Individuals in the Sixties might relate best to this, as there was a basic sense of rebelling versus the system and confusion about identity. Normal prose is used a lot more in this, as the beauty of language isn’t a lot essential but the feeling that they express about the scenario through the language.
The two plays Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead contrast in numerous methods since of the context in which they were created. The context of Elizabethan times is reflected strongly in Hamlet which holds the values of the early seventeenth century, as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead shows the values of the Swinging Sixties which are been plentiful by confusion. These contexts are important in the study of both plays as they do not vary considerably, apart from the values they bring from the time in which they were composed.