This theme is introduced in the very first scene of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, where the long string of coins tosses coming up "heads" seems to suggest that the laws of probability have been suspended. The way that fate operates in the play is largely through the words of William Shakespeare. Since Stoppard's play works within the framework of Shakespeare's Hamlet, his characters are bound to undergo a certain series of events – their fate was "written" in 1600. Main characters Guil and Ros have the most freedom when they manage to get out of the action of the Hamlet storyline, but in these times they often find themselves bored and listless. The relationship between Stoppard's play and Shakespeare's allows Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead to ask the question: to what degree do fate and chance control our own lives?
In the beginning of the play, Guil sees fate and free will as two sides of a coin. Either there is such a thing as fate and they have no free will, or there is such a thing as free will but then their actions are arbitrary.