This presentation deals with a portion of my senior ENAM thesis, which focuses mainly on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by Tom Stoppard. The specific portion that I presented at the Symposium examined Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead‘s relation to William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and to my knowledge is the first sustained and in-depth comparison between the two works. My presentation examines the precise nature of the relationship between the two works, as well as how events within Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead modify and enrich our understanding of Hamlet. Within Stoppard’s play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern feel they have no free will; however, we can perceive the overall causes and effects of events in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead because of our prior knowledge of Hamlet and in that way can recognize the limits and contradictions of both predestination and free will.


John Goerlich

John Bertolini
Sponsor & Ellis Professor of English and Liberal Arts

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