Short summary - Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead - Tom Stoppard

British literature summaries -

Short summary - Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Tom Stoppard

«Two people, dressed in costumes of the Elizabethan era, spend time in an area devoid of any characteristic features.» Rosencrantz and Guildenstern play toss; Guildenstern takes a coin from his wallet, flips it, and Rosencrantz, watching her fall, says «eagle» and drops the coin into his wallet. Guildenstern’s wallet is almost empty, Rosencrantz’s wallet is almost full: the «eagle», however incredible, drops out all the time, and they play for a long time. Guildenstern is not worried about money, he is trying to understand the meaning of what is happening, because "it must mean something else but the redistribution of capital." He is trying to look at the matter from a philosophical and scientific point of view. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have played enough so that they no longer remember where they are or what happened to them. With difficulty they recall that a messenger arrived at them. They probably need to go somewhere, but where? Guildenstern finds the answer to this difficult question: they need to move forward. But they already forgot which side they came from. They feel lonely and deserted. In the distance, music is heard, soon six actors appear. They offer for a few sonorous coins to give Rosencrantz and Guildenstern a complete set of chilling plots, heroes and corpses. For an additional fee, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern will be able to take part in the action. Rosencrantz asks how much it costs to watch a private performance and whether two spectators are enough. The actor replies that two people as a public are deplorable, and ideal as connoisseurs. Hearing the price, Rosencrantz is horrified. But it turns out that he understood poorly what the actor means. The actor is ready to put boys at their disposal. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are filled with disgust for the actors, but the actors say that such times are now. To the question of Rosencrantz, what do they usually do, the actors answer that they do ordinary things, only inside out. They represent on the stage what is happening outside of it, "in which there is a kind of unity - if you look at every exit as an entrance somewhere." Rosencrantz does not want to pay for the presentation of more than one coin. The actor does not like such a board, and Guildenstern offers him to play toss. Each of them in turn calls an «eagle», and since the coins still fall «eagle» upward each time, each of them wins in turn. Guildenstern bet that the year of his birth, multiplied by two, gives an even number. He wins, but the actors have no money to pay. Guildenstern requires them to play a play instead of money,

«There is a change in lighting, as a result of which the outside world seems to be included in the action, but not especially strongly.» Ophelia runs into the scene, followed by Hamlet, a dumb scene takes place between them, Ophelia runs away. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern want to leave, but here comes Claudius and Gertrude, who, confusing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with each other, ask them to stay and find out what kind of longing Hamlet gnaws. Rosencrant did not like all this: he wants to go home, but he lost his orientation and no longer knows which side they came from. Guildenstern philosophically remarks: «The only entrance is birth, the only exit is death. What other guidelines do you have? »Rosencrantz had already forgotten what to do, and Guildenstern reminds him that they should entertain Hamlet and simultaneously find out what worries him. The king promised that he would not remain in debt, and Rosencrantz really wants to know how much they will receive, but Guildenstern is sure that royal gratitude is words, words. To pass the time and practice, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern play questions, in the end they themselves no longer understand what game they play and what its rules are. Hamlet wanders past them across the stage, he reads a book and does not notice them. While Rosencrantz and Guildenstern figure out what’s the matter, Hamlet manages to leave. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern train: Rosencrantz asks questions, and Guildenstern answers on behalf of Hamlet. Rosencrantz sums up: Hamlet’s father died, and his brother climbed onto his throne and his bed, thereby insulting moral and physical laws. But still, why is Hamlet behaving in such a strange way? Guildenstern honestly replies that he has no idea. Hamlet and Polonius enter. When Polonius leaves, Hamlet joyfully greets Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, confusing them. He tells them that he is insane only in the north-north-west, and with a south wind he can still distinguish a falcon from a heron. After talking with him, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern feel that he left them in the cold: within ten minutes he asked them twenty-seven questions, but answered only three. Half of what he said meant something else, and the other half did not mean anything. They have been trying for a long time to determine whether the south wind is now or not south, but they do not succeed. Word for word, they forget what they started talking about. Suddenly Rosencrantz shouted: «On fire!» In fact, he is not on fire anywhere, he just wanted to show what it means to abuse the freedom of speech to make sure that it exists. and in the south wind it can still distinguish a falcon from a heron. After talking with him, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern feel that he left them in the cold: within ten minutes he asked them twenty-seven questions, but answered only three. Half of what he said meant something else, and the other half did not mean anything. They have been trying for a long time to determine whether the south wind is now or not south, but they do not succeed. Word for word, they forget what they started talking about. Suddenly Rosencrantz shouted: «On fire!» In fact, he is not on fire anywhere, he just wanted to show what it means to abuse the freedom of speech to make sure that it exists. and in the south wind it can still distinguish a falcon from a heron. After talking with him, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern feel that he left them in the cold: within ten minutes he asked them twenty-seven questions, but answered only three. Half of what he said meant something else, and the other half did not mean anything. They have been trying for a long time to determine whether the south wind is now or not south, but they do not succeed. Word for word, they forget what they started talking about. Suddenly Rosencrantz shouted: «On fire!» In fact, he is not on fire anywhere, he just wanted to show what it means to abuse the freedom of speech to make sure that it exists. Half of what he said meant something else, and the other half did not mean anything. They have been trying for a long time to determine whether the south wind is now or not south, but they do not succeed. Word for word, they forget what they started talking about. Suddenly Rosencrantz shouted: «On fire!» In fact, he is not on fire anywhere, he just wanted to show what it means to abuse the freedom of speech to make sure that it exists. Half of what he said meant something else, and the other half did not mean anything. They have been trying for a long time to determine whether the south wind is now or not south, but they do not succeed. Word for word, they forget what they started talking about. Suddenly Rosencrantz shouted: «On fire!» In fact, he is not on fire anywhere, he just wanted to show what it means to abuse the freedom of speech to make sure that it exists.

Actors arrive in Elsinore. Hamlet asks them to play Gonzago's Assassination and is about to compose and insert a monologue. The actor, having met Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, expresses his insult to them: the actors began to play, got a taste, there were already two corpses, and then they noticed that no one was looking at them, that they were crucifying under an empty sky, and after all, the consciousness that who something looks, is the only thing that makes this life bearable, because the actors are the opposite of people. Guildenstern complains to the Actor that he and Rosencrantz do not know what is happening, and do not know what to do. They only know what they are told, and this is not much, and in addition they are not convinced that this is true. Rosencrantz explains that Hamlet has changed externally and internally and they must find out what influenced him. Hamlet is talking to himself, and this is a sign of insanity. True, he says reasonable things. Guildenstern, it seems, understood: "a man who speaks to himself, but with meaning, is no more insane than a man who speaks to others, but carries nonsense." Rosencrantz observes that since Hamlet does both, this means that he is clinically normal. The actor leaves to learn the role, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern talk about death. Rosencrantz believes that a person is born with a premonition of death and, barely born, he knows that for all compasses in the world there is only one direction and time - its measure. Guildenstern says that death, accompanied by eternity, is the worst that exists in both worlds. Actors appear and begin to rehearse a pantomime, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern observe. Interrupting the rehearsal, Ophelia runs into the scene, pursued by Hamlet, who grabbing her sleeve in hysterics, shouts at her, etc. After the words «to the monastery, to the monastery» Hamlet comes out, and Claudius and Polonius, who arrived in time, catching Ophelia in tears, decide that Hamlet’s soul is not occupied with love. Claudius decides to send Hamlet to England as soon as possible. When Claudius, Polonius and Ophelia leave, the actors resume their rehearsal. They disagree with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern on views on art. The actor believes that killing, seduction and incest are exactly what the public needs. Rosencrantz loves a good story - with a beginning, middle, and end. Guildenstern would prefer art as a mirror of life. The actor comments on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern pantomime: on stage is a stylized scene of the murder of Polonius stabbed through a curtain. Then the actor king sends his nephew actor to England, accompanied by two smiling spies, but the prince disappears, and the spies have a letter in their hands, dooming them to death. The English king, after reading the letter, orders them to be executed. When cloaks are torn from spies before execution, it turns out that under the cloaks both spies are dressed in suits similar to those of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern themselves. It seems to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that they had already met these people somewhere, but they did not recognize themselves in them. "Spies die, slowly, but convincingly." Rosencrantz applauds slowly. During the darkening, exclamations are heard: «The King is rising!», «Stop the show!», «Light!» When it begins to brighten, it becomes clear that this is a sunrise, and the two people lying on the stage in the same poses as the executed spies are sleeping Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Waking up, they try to determine where the east is. From behind the scene, Claudius calls them: Hamlet killed Polonius, and his body must be taken to the chapel. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern stupidly walk around the stage, not understanding which way they should go. While they clumsily try to catch Hamlet, he manages to carry away and hide the body, and then he disappears himself. Fearing to confess to Claudius that they missed Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern try to get out, but, to their happiness, the guard brings Hamlet - and the situation is saved. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern must sail with Hamlet to England. Hamlet asks the warrior in armor about the army of the old Norwegian led by his nephew Fortinbras. the guard brings Hamlet - and the situation is saved. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern must sail with Hamlet to England. Hamlet asks the warrior in armor about the army of the old Norwegian led by his nephew Fortinbras. the guard brings Hamlet - and the situation is saved. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern must sail with Hamlet to England. Hamlet asks the warrior in armor about the army of the old Norwegian led by his nephew Fortinbras.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern on the ship. They, as always, lead a meaningless philosophical conversation. Guildenstern says: «A man is free on a ship. Temporarily. Relatively. » They bring the king’s letter to England, and also accompany Hamlet. Rosencrantz holds out to Guildenstern hands clenched into fists, offering to guess in which hand the coin is. Guessing several times in a row and receiving several coins, Guildenstern begins to suspect a trick and demands that Rosencrantz open his second fist. It also turns out to be a coin. Guildenstern wonders: what's the point? Rosencrantz explains: he wanted to make Guildenstern pleasant. They do not really know why they are sailing to England, what they should do when they land. Rosencrantz does not even know who the king of England is now, in response to which Guildenstern philosophically remarks: "Depends on when we get there." Rosencrantz and Guildenstern can’t remember in any way which of them has a letter, finally everything is explained, and they sigh with relief. Rosencrantz says he does not believe in England. «And even if it exists, all the same, only one more nonsense will come out,» he adds, thinking. They open and read a letter condemning Hamlet to death. Hamlet, hiding behind a large open umbrella, eavesdrops, and when Rosencrantz and Guildenstern fall asleep, he replaces the letter. In the morning, from the barrels standing on the deck, music is heard and actors crawl out slowly on board the ship. Their play offended the king, and they considered it best to get out of Elsinore as soon as possible. Rosencrantz explodes: all around by chance, do people really have no right to at least some logical course of things ?! finally everything is clarified, and they sigh with relief. Rosencrantz says he does not believe in England. «And even if it exists, all the same, only one more nonsense will come out,» he adds, thinking. They open and read a letter condemning Hamlet to death. Hamlet, hiding behind a large open umbrella, eavesdrops, and when Rosencrantz and Guildenstern fall asleep, he replaces the letter. In the morning, from the barrels standing on the deck, music is heard and actors crawl out slowly on board the ship. Their play offended the king, and they considered it best to get out of Elsinore as soon as possible. Rosencrantz explodes: all around by chance, do people really have no right to at least some logical course of things ?! finally everything is clarified, and they sigh with relief. Rosencrantz says he does not believe in England. «And even if it exists, all the same, only one more nonsense will come out,» he adds, thinking. They open and read a letter condemning Hamlet to death. Hamlet, hiding behind a large open umbrella, eavesdrops, and when Rosencrantz and Guildenstern fall asleep, he replaces the letter. In the morning, from the barrels standing on the deck, music is heard and actors crawl out slowly on board the ship. Their play offended the king, and they considered it best to get out of Elsinore as soon as possible. Rosencrantz explodes: all around by chance, do people really have no right to at least some logical course of things ?! - Thinking, he adds. They open and read a letter condemning Hamlet to death. Hamlet, hiding behind a large open umbrella, eavesdrops, and when Rosencrantz and Guildenstern fall asleep, he replaces the letter. In the morning, from the barrels standing on the deck, music is heard and actors crawl out slowly on board the ship. Their play offended the king, and they considered it best to get out of Elsinore as soon as possible. Rosencrantz explodes: all around by chance, do people really have no right to at least some logical course of things ?! - Thinking, he adds. They open and read a letter condemning Hamlet to death. Hamlet, hiding behind a large open umbrella, eavesdrops, and when Rosencrantz and Guildenstern fall asleep, he replaces the letter. In the morning, from the barrels standing on the deck, music is heard and actors crawl out slowly on board the ship. Their play offended the king, and they considered it best to get out of Elsinore as soon as possible. Rosencrantz explodes: all around by chance, do people really have no right to at least some logical course of things ?! and they considered it best to get out of Elsinore as soon as possible. Rosencrantz explodes: all around by chance, do people really have no right to at least some logical course of things ?! and they considered it best to get out of Elsinore as soon as possible. Rosencrantz explodes: all around by chance, do people really have no right to at least some logical course of things ?!

At this moment, pirates attack the ship. Hamlet is hiding in one barrel. The actor - in another, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern - in the third. When the danger has passed. The actor and Rosencrantz with Guildenstern are not in the barrels where they climbed, and the barrel with Hamlet disappears. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are at a loss, but they still have a letter that they must deliver to the English king. Guildenstern grabs the letter, opens and reads the request to immediately decapitate the bearers of this letter to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. At the command of the Actor, it is not known when they get out of the barrel when the other actors who climbed there and with a menacing ring close around Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Guildenstern wonders: «Is it really all just for this? Is all this booth reduced to only our two small deaths? »Experience tells the Actor, that most things end in death, but Guildenstern objects: his experience is that of an actor, and real death is another. He grabs a stylet from the actor’s belt and puts it in the throat of the actor, he falls and dies. The other actors applaud with admiration, and the Actor, to the amazement of Guildenstern, stands up. He shows that his stylet is a secret: when they press it, the blade goes into the handle. Actors demonstrate to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern "the death of all time and species." Guildenstern says that for them everything is not so: dying is not romantic, and death is not a game that will end soon. Death is the absence of presence, the door to the void. First Rosencrantz, then Guildenstern disappear from sight. The scene is illuminated, in the depths of it are visible the bodies of the actors, lying as at the end of Shakespeare's play.