Shakespeare?s Comic Relief
As Shakespeare?s Hamlet is recounted from another point of view, in Tom Stoppard?s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, a new sense of witty comedy is sprung forth from the classic play. In all actuality, the play is classified as a tragic comedy, because although the dialogue and flow of the play is one of a laid back comedy, the play does end in death. It?s as though the two, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, put off a sort of dumb vibe, I mean they can?t even get their names straight. In the end though, I would have to say that their confusion is really the source of most of their stupidity.
In one instance, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, play a question and answer type game to sharpen up on their skills for their upcoming encounter with Hamlet. In the Abbot and Costello, ?Who?s on First? style, the two would throw out a series of questions, confusing both the reader and themselves. Not only was the basis of their questions comical, but also the manner in which they asked them and scored themselves in a tennis-like way. Following this completely stupid question game the two enacted a hypothetical encounter with Hamlet. It almost took all of Rosencrantz?s brain power just to understand the fact that Guildenstern was acting as Hamlet. The hilarious conversation ended up in Rosencrantz arriving at the following conclusion, ?To sum up: your father, whom you love, dies, you are his heir, you come back to find that hardly was the corpse cold before his young brother popped onto his throne and into his sheets, thereby offending both legal and natural practice. Now why exactly are you behaving in this extraordinary manner??
In Act II, the lonesome couple, encounter some an acting group passing them by. In hope of a performance, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were quite surprised as to what the players had in mind. This scene is sure to crack a few laughs wherever it?s performed. Here the two misunderstand what type of entertainment the players have in store for them, until he the head player suggests that they?d probably enjoy themselves more if they get involve. Finally, Guildenstern realized what they were getting at and clears up all the confusion with this statement, ?No enigma, no dignity, nothing classical, portentous, only his?a comic pornographer and a rabble of prostitutes.?
These weren?t the only examples of comedy in the play, but I found that both of these were very similar in the elements that made them funny. In both cases, comedy was the result of ironic and witty dialogue. The play in general was funny, and I it just goes to show how any story can change due to a change in perspective.