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Ross and Guil Are Dead Summary

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are two well-dressed Elizabethan

men in the middle of a coin-spinning game. Their location is

featureless. Whoever calls the coin correctly wins it, and

Rosencrantz has been calling heads and winning dozens of

times. While he feels guilty about taking so much money from

his friend, he does not see the consistent "heads" tosses as

peculiar at all. Conversely, Guildenstern doesn't care about the

money, but he is disturbed by the lengthening series of "heads"

tosses. Rosencrantz is caught up in the game, but Guildenstern

wants to think about it theoretically. He begins thinking about

the laws of probability, focusing on the idea that if six monkeys

were thrown up in the air repeatedly, they would land on their

heads and tails about equally often. He tries to calculate the idea

of an "even chance" in his head: he just can't believe that the

coin could land heads-up so many times in a row if there was a

fifty-fifty chance each time that it would land tails. Rosencrantz,

however, continues to be embarrassed at his success, calling it

"boring," which irritates Guildenstern, who is very interested in

what is going on. Rosencrantz calls out that heads has come up

eighty-five times: a new record for him. Guildenstern gets

angrier, asking what Rosencrantz would have thought if the

coins had come down against him eighty-five times. Not

understanding that, in terms of probability, this outcome would

have been no different, Rosencrantz simply tells him he would

suspect that the coins were fake. Guildenstern wants

Rosencrantz to feel some awe, or even fear, at the strangeness of

the results of their game, but Rosencrantz cannot be moved.

Guildenstern imagines possible reasons that this could be

happening: he is willing it out of some unremembered guilt, or

God is willing it, or time has stopped and they are

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