Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

The Theme of Lost Identity in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead 12th Grade

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, a dramatic play written by Tom Stoppard, contains numerous allusions to the Bible and Hamlet. These two features provide not only allusions to Shakespeare through the obvious Hamlet references, the plot that we are all actors in this world, and through the rhyming couplets of the Biblical codas, but also give a deeper and more complex meaning to the play. It seems that while Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are unaware of who they are or where they come from, it is obvious to the audience that they were raised in Christian households through the many codas.

Biblical allusions reappear throughout this play, in the forms of codas but also in the dialogue between the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. There are, in fact, five codas which make a play on the first line of the Lord’s Prayer—Give us this day our daily bread—and are formed as rhyming couplets. The first coda, on page 39, states, “Consistency is all I ask, give us this day our daily mask”(Stoppard 39). This coda follows after King Claudius mixes up the names of the two friends and confusing the two about their identities even more. The next coda deals with immortality, “Immortallity is all I seek, give us this day our daily week” (Stoppard...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 932 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7487 literature essays, 2119 sample college application essays, 310 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in