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The Demand for the Change of the Subject's Consciousness and Action in Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2010, 23(2), pp.243-266
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Jang, Seon Young 1

1공주대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Tom Stoppard’s RGAD, though based on Shakespeare work, Hamlet, has not much to do with Hamlet, which indicates certain ‘non-relation’ between RGAD and Hamlet. I argue that this ‘non-relation,’ rather than meaning there is nothing between RGAD and Hamlet, can be thought as denoting a profound relation between them, which insists on the power of ‘divergence’ and ‘decentering’ in Deleuze’s concept of ‘simulacrum’. This ‘simulacrum’, negating both original and copy, allows both RGAD and Hamlet subversive and rebellious. Thus, RGAD and Hamlet form divergent series founded on the eccentric circle with a constantly decentered center. The ‘simulacrum’ is expressed in RGAD and Hamlet as a way of portraying and urging the awakening of consciousness and the need for human choice in taking responsibility for us and others. This paper interrogates how Stoppard realizes this revolutionary spirit of ‘simulacrum’ within his work, RGAD. For Stoppard, the identity of man is not something that is matured by accepting his own mortality and finitude but something enriched with his consistent pursuit in the truth. But Ros and Guil, unfortunately, standing before their coming deaths, do not make any choice and take action. They just follow the things as they are told, comforting themselves, until things happen to them. Passive in proceeding the work related to themselves but also to Hamlet, they do not take action in making some change in their present state. Often self-conscious and discontented with their state, they try to avoid the anxiety or the fear by relying on philosophical logic, meaningless question-answer games, and ridiculous acts, but do not feel any responsibility for their state and make meaningful action. In the sense of emphasizing the subject’s responsibility, Stoppard’s stance is differentiated from the Player’s advice to Ros and Guil. The Player, though characterized as substantial and supremely confident, does not tell the truth. What the Player espouses is that a person should act natural and conform to the present reality. The Player’s insistence that one should merely respond to circumstances, though acceptable as a proposal to explain human situation prisoned in the reality, it is certainly the fatalism or the conformism. These cannot be stated as truth. In RGAD, Stoppard guides the audience to the awakening of consciousness and the change of action by erasing the distinction between reality and fantasy. By breaking the boundary between reality and fantasy, it makes the spectator not to remain as an onlooker but as a participant. The stage does not remain as the place they can confirm their fantasy, but is changed into the space they can think as more real than reality, thus believe their reality can be always radicalized by this new space.

Citation status

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