Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Rosencrantz

Rosencrantz, a well-dressed Elizabethan courtier, with hat, cloak, stick, and all, carrying a large leather moneybag and waiting for something, or someone, for reasons that he does not seem to understand. He and his comrade, Guildenstern, are enough alike to be confused with each other. In fact, he introduces himself as Guildenstern, not noticing the error until his companion calls a brief conference with him. In part, he, with Guildenstern, seems to mark time while waiting for a messenger who will advise him as to his function in the plot of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. A favorite pastime is witty word games, but they are played with an urgency that suggests that, rather than being fun, they are more a way of avoiding despair. Commissioned by Claudius, he only understands that his job, along with Guildenstern, is to learn something about Hamlet’s strange behavior. He, practicing with Guildenstern, arrives at one approach by which to confront Hamlet and to inquire why he is behaving so oddly. As a result of a trick by Hamlet, whom Claudius meant to have executed, Rosencrantz is condemned to die.

Guildenstern

Guildenstern, another Elizabethan courtier, well dressed with hat, cloak, and stick, and also carrying a large leather moneybag and waiting for something, or someone, for reasons that he does not seem to understand. He and Rosencrantz are so much alike that no distinguishing characteristics can be described for either. He pretends to be Hamlet so that Rosencrantz can try out an approach of inquiry into the reasons for the prince’s odd behavior. Like Rosencrantz, as the result of a trick by Hamlet, whom Claudius meant to have executed, Guildenstern is condemned to die.

The Player

The Player, a spokesperson for the tragedians. His conversations with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern expose him (and, by proximity, all the tragedians) as having few principles, a lack not shared by the two gentlemen. Guildenstern sees him as a “comic pornographer and a rabble of prostitutes.”

The Tragedians

The Tragedians, a troupe of six traveling actors, including Alfred, a small boy, and the Player. There is a drummer, a horn player, and a flutist; one other moves the cart of props. They are on the way to the royal court, where they will be commissioned by Hamlet to play a drama of his design.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Character Analysis

Guildenstern

In Stoppard's play, Guildenstern is the more philosophical and intellectual of the two courtiers who double as minor characters in...

(The entire section is 178 words.)

Rosencrantz

Rosencrantz is a minor character in Shakespeare' s Hamlet and one of the two major characters in Stoppard's unusual version of...

(The entire section is 281 words.)

Other Characters

Alfred
Alfred is a Stoppard invention who does not appear in Shakespeare's play. Alfred is a small boy, one of the six...

(The entire section is 511 words.)