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Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern


            Rosencrantz and Guildenstern wander through Tom Stoppard's play like a virgin on their way to the lake in a modern day slasher film. From the beginning to the end of the play these characters are generally confused and cannot comprehend the world around them. Despite the fact that they try and attempt to understand their surroundings and predicament they end their journey consistent with the fashion of all humanity, in death. Death is something that is inescapable and Tom Stoppard shows us this through the themes and symbols in his play. It is easy to compare these characters to the virgins of the modern day slasher movies simply because Tom Stoppard plucked them from one of the best slasher stories written, William Shakespeare's "Hamlet". .
             The play starts with a suspension of belief and Tom Stoppard so cleverly does this with the coin toss that opens Act I. With this one game he gives insight into the characters themselves while hinting at something more treacherous that lies in the shadows. While according to the law of probability, a tossed coin should have a fifty-fifty chance of landing on heads or tails, the coins in this particular act almost exclusively land on heads leaving us to believe that the law of probability is suspended. During this scene Rosencrantz is the virgin, as much as the audience may want him to call out tails he continues to call out heads as the coin continues to fall onto heads. This goes along the same vein of the virgin being asked plot setting questions you know she should reply no to but instead answers yes every time. Both of these occasions replace a fifty-fifty probability with a one-hundred percent probability showing the audience that the thing lurking in the shadows is death and that it is in fact inevitable.
             Yet while death is a sure thing, the┬áhuman acceptance of death is not a given. The characters struggle against death even in the face of its 100% probability and as inevitable as it is, it still seems impossible for them to accept it.


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