Theme in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by playwright Tom Stoppard, explores deep concepts of fate through the eyes of Hamlet's bewildered lackeys. The human perception of destiny and death is questioned and answered by the themes of the play. Fate, death, and human consciousness open new doors of thought and provide valuable insights about the characters. .
Fate holds the main role in evoking thought throughout the play. As Guildenstern remarks, "Wheels have been set in motion, and they have their own pace to which we are.condemned. Each move is dictated by the previous one--that is the meaning of order ( 60)." Their presence on the boat is a parallel to their path in life. Guildenstern states it best, "Free to move, speak, extemporize, and yet. We have not been cut loose. Our truancy is defined by one fixed star, and our drift represents merely a slight change is the angle of it: we may seize the moment, toss it around while the moments pass, a short dash here, and exploration there, but we are brought round full circle to face again the single immutable fact--that we, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, bearing a letter from one king to another, are taking Hamlet to England ( 101)." Free will plays no part in the fate of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. They may move around within the boundaries of fortune's designated path, but their ultimate end is not avoidable. .
Death is the inevitable end of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Death is questioned, however, through its portrayal by the players, and Guildenstern's opinion of what death truly is. The Players assume a more light-hearted approach to death, remarking, "Deaths for all ages and occasions! Deaths by suspension, convulsion, consumption, incision, execution, asphyxiation and malnutrition-! Climactic carnage, by poison and by steel-! Double deaths by duel-! Show!- (124)" To the players, death is merely an industry to be exploited.