Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Passivity Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
A FEMALE FIGURE, ostensibly the QUEEN, enters. ROS marches up behind her, puts his hands over her eyes and says with a desperate frivolity. ROS: Guess who?! PLAYER (having appeared in a downstage corner): Alfred! ROS lets go, spins around. He has been holding ALFRED, in his robe and blond wig. PLAYER is in the downstage corner still. ROS comes down to that exit. The PLAYER does not budge. He and ROS stand toe to toe. (2.263-265)
We include all of these stage directions because Alfred and the Queen are two of the most passive characters in the play, perhaps even more so than Guil and Ros. Isn't it weird that Alfred gets dressed up as the Queen? What a coincidence.
GUIL: As soon as we make a move they'll come pouring in from every side, shouting obscure instructions, confusing us with ridiculous remarks, messing us about from here to breakfast and getting our names wrong. (2.352)
Guil here blames everyone else for their confusion and their situation. Do they ever learn not to get confused by such ridiculous remarks?
GUIL: And yet it doesn't seem enough; to have breathed such significance. Can that be all? And why us? – anybody would have done. And we have contributed nothing. (2.428)
Guil is right – they've contributed nothing. How could the two of them possibly be picked out for the task of divining what is wrong with Hamlet? Is it the fact that they contribute nothing?