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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

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.

Quote #1

GUIL: Inside where nothing shows, I am the essence of a man spinning double-headed coins, and betting against himself in private atonement for an unremembered past. (1.56)

Why does the seeming suspension of the law of probability make Guil so uneasy? Why does he demand an explanation, even if it is more fantastical than the situation itself?

Quote #2

GUIL: This made for a kind of harmony and a kind of confidence. It related the fortuitous and the ordained into a reassuring union, which we recognized as nature. The sun came up about as often as it went down, in the long run, and a coin showed heads about as often as it showed tails. Then a messenger arrived. We had been sent for. Nothing else happened. Ninety-two coins spun consecutively have come down heads ninety-two consecutive times…and for the last three minutes on the wind of a windless day I have heard the sound of drums and flute… (1.74)

Is our sense of control over what happens to us based on the simple fact that sometimes things go our way and sometimes they do not? Is it just that things seem to happen randomly enough that we can't figure out a pattern and so we assume that we have free will?

Quote #3

GUIL: The only beginning is birth and the only end is death – if you can't count on that, what can you count on? (1.325)

Is the fact that you can count on birth and death a point of assurance for Guil or a cause for more concern?

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