Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
by Tom Stoppard
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Fate and Free Will Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue.
GUIL: There's a logic at work – it's all done for you, don't worry. Enjoy it. Relax. To be taken in hand and led, like being a child again, even without the innocence, a child – it's like being given a prize, an extra slice of childhood when you least expect it, as a prize for being good, or compensation for never having had one…Do I contradict myself? (1.329)
Is Guil contradicting himself, not just logically within the sentence, but by feeling that the lack of control and free will is actually a blessing? How does this foreshadow how Guil will feel on the boat at the end of the play?
GUIL: Wheels have been set in motion, and they have their own pace, to which we are…condemned. Each move is dictated by the previous one – that is the meaning of order. If we start arbitrary it'll just be a shambles: at least, let us hope so. Because if we happened, just happened to discover, or even suspect, that our spontaneity was part of their order, we'd known that we were lost. (He sits.) A Chinaman of the T'ang Dynasty – and, by which definition, a philosopher – dreamed he was a butterfly, and from that moment he was never quite sure that he was not a butterfly dreaming it was a Chinese philosopher. Envy him; his two-fold security. (2.67)
What does two-fold security mean here? What does the Chinese philosopher have that Guil thinks that they lack? Why don't they still have a way of getting out of their situation?
ROS: We'll be free.
GUIL: I don't know. It's the same sky.
ROS: We've come this far…And besides, anything could happen yet. (2.475)
Ros's statement is heavily ironic. Is there anyway to still snatch some significance or truth from what he says, or is it overcome by the audience's knowledge that he and Guil are on the way to their deaths?