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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

by Tom Stoppard

Foolishness and Folly Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

GUIL: What's the first thing you remember?
ROS: Ah. (Pause.) No, it's no good, it's gone. It was a long time ago.
GUIL (patient but edged): You don't get my meaning. What is the first thing after all the things you've forgotten?
ROS: Oh I see. (Pause.) I've forgotten the question. (1.61-64)

Is there something more significant going on in the misunderstanding here? Isn't Ros revealing that there's not just a set of things you forget and a set of things you remember, but that the two are jumbled and often indistinguishable?

Quote #2

GUIL: We can't afford anything quite so arbitrary. Nor did we come all this way for a christening. All that – preceded us. But we are comparatively fortunate; we might have been left to sift the whole field of human nomenclature, like two blind men looting a bazaar for their own portraits…At least we are presented with alternatives. (1.317)

Does foolishness grow out of arbitrariness or does arbitrariness grow out of foolishness?

Quote #3

HAMLET: …for you yourself, sir, should be as old as I am if like a crab you could go backward.
POLONIUS (aside): Though this be madness, yet there is method in it. Will you walk out of the air, my lord?
HAMLET: Into my grave.
POLONIUS: Indeed, that's out of the air. (1.593-596)

What is the difference between madness and foolishness? Why is it necessary that they think that Hamlet is mad rather than just being foolish? When might it be advantageous to pretend to be a fool?

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