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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead


by Tom Stoppard

Guildenstern (Guil) Timeline and Summary

  • Guil loses numerous coin bets to Ros. Worried by the long string of "heads," he attempts to come up with an explanation.
  • He puzzles over the potential importance of their moment, then recalls that a man awoke them with a summons.
  • When the Tragedians come, Guil speaks with the Player and suggests that he can use his influence at Court.
  • When the Player proposes a private performance of The Rape of the Sabine Women, Guil slaps him and tells him not to be obscene.
  • Guil bets the Player on the toss of a coin and beats him repeatedly. He then bets him that the year of his birth doubled is an even number.
  • Claudius and Gertrude request Guil and Ros cheer up Hamlet and find out what is wrong with him.
  • Guil speculates on the arbitrariness of their names, the ephemeral nature of life, and the logic of the events that they are becoming involved in.
  • Guil and Ros play "questions," but Guil loses.
  • Guil and Ros act out a question and answer scenario in which Guil role-plays Hamlet and Ros role-plays Ros. It is practice to find out what is wrong with Hamlet.
  • Guil and Ros have a conversation with Hamlet. Guil thinks they learned something, though he is not sure what.
  • Guil attempts to determine the direction of the wind based on the location of the sun and goes on a rant against pragmatism.
  • Guil again speaks of the way that wheels have been set in motion and ponders about the nature of existence.
  • When the Player arrives at court, Guil mocks him for being melodramatic and about how hard it was for the Player when Ros and Guil ditched him in the woods.
  • Guil discusses with the Player what the Tragedians will put on at court, and they talk about how Hamlet is doing.
  • Guil becomes irritated when Ros goes on a long rant about what it would like to be dead.
  • Guil watches the Tragedians dress rehearsal with Ros, but gets in an argument with the Player about whether or not an actor can know anything about death.
  • After Hamlet kills Polonius, Guil and Ros debate how they will find him. When they find they will have to go to England, Guil worries about whether or not they should go, but does nothing.
  • Guil wakes up in the dark on a boat with Ros, and comforts Ros, who is scared. He talks about how he likes boats because your direction is determined on a boat. You can be free without being cut loose.
  • Guil first mocks Ros and then comforts him for worrying about what will happen when they get to England. He assures him that they have the letter.
  • Guil and Ros act out the scenario of arriving at England with Guil as Guil and Ros as the King. They find that the letter condemns Hamlet to death.
  • Guil rationalizes why it is okay that Hamlet is condemned to die.
  • The Tragedians are revealed to be on the boat, and Guil and the Player discuss Hamlet. Guil says it boils down to symptoms, and makes an extensive list of Hamlet's.
  • Pirates attack, and afterward Guil worries that they are lost. Ros reassures him. They again act out the scenario with Ros as Ros and Guil as the King, but this time they realize that the letter has been changed and it condemns them to death.
  • Guil again argues with the Player about death, as the Tragedians menacingly surround him and Ros. He stabs the Player, but it is revealed that he has stabbed him with a trick knife.
  • Guil wonders if there was a moment when he and Ros could have escaped their situation, but then decides that it is not worth worrying about. He disappears.