Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
by Tom Stoppard
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Mortality 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: No, no, no…you've got it all wrong…you can't act death. The fact of it is nothing to do with seeing it happen – it's not gasps and blood and falling about – that isn't what makes it death. It's just a man failing to reappear, that's all – now you see him, now you don't, that's the only thing that's real: here one minute and gone the next and never coming back – an exit, unobtrusive and unannounced, a disappearance gathering weight as it goes on, until, finally, it is heavy with death. (2.340)
Notice how Guil is, in a way, prophesying his own death later on in the play, and yet here he calls death something that is "unannounced."
ROS (he means): Is he dead?
PLAYER: Who knows?
GUIL (rattled): He's not coming back?
ROS: He's dead then. He's dead as far as we're concerned
PLAYER: Or we are as far as he is. (2.288-292)
How does Ros's common-sense view of death differ from the Player's sense of death as something performed and Guil's sense of death as the ultimate negative?
GUIL: I'm talking about death – and you've never experienced that. And you cannot act it. You die a thousand casual deaths – with none of that intensity which squeezes out life…and no blood runs cold anywhere. Because even as you die you know that you will come back in a different hat. But no one gets up after death – there is no applause – there is only silence and some second-hand clothes, and that's – death – (3.338)
Is Guil more motivated by his desire to express what death is truly or by fear of what will happen to him and Ros?