Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

by Tom Stoppard

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1. In a scene of at least two pages or a narrative of at least one page, depict or describe what happens to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern between the time they walk off stage in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and the time of their deaths at the hands of the English king. What do the characters do? What do they say? What events lead to their demise? How do they feel along the way?   2. Citing specific details and quotations from both Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, explain your reasons for depicting or describing the events leading up to the deaths of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as you did. Justify the choices you made and the direction in which you decided to take the story in your scene or narrative.

The two characters are dead by the end of the play, so you can take them anywhere you want. Stoppard's style won't be appropriate for the assignment, but you might try something similar thematically. The dialogue should sound like it belongs to the characters. If done well, part 2 should be relatively easy after part 1 is done.

Expert Answers

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This is a fun project. eNotes educators are not allowed to do students’ homework for them (nor should they), but I can give you a few guideposts to start along your way.

Examine what Stoppard might be trying to say in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. The play certainly delves into themes of absurdity, the real vs. the imagined, madness, and death. It might be too much to copy Stoppard’s writing style, but you could mirror him thematically. Whether or not the two characters actually do die at the hands of the king is a choice that you, as the author, get to make.

As far as the dialogue the characters speak, try putting yourself into their situation and consider what they might want to say to each other, to the English court, or perhaps to the audience. They do not have to say anything particularly profound if you do not think they would. They might be talking about a nice lunch they had or their favorite colors. So long as it feels true to you given what you know about the characters, have at it.

If part 1 is done correctly, part 2 should be simple. You’ve already done the work ahead of time, considering these characters and what they might say. Explain how you came to the conclusions you did in part 1. This is a very subjective assignment, and as long as you are true to yourself and the text, I doubt your teacher will fault any direction you take it.

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