Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
by Tom Stoppard
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Passivity 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: Let us keep things in proportion. Assume, if you like, that they're going to kill him...we are little men, we don't know the ins and outs of the matter, there are wheels within wheel, etcetera – it would be presumptuous of us to interfere with the designs of fate or even of kings. All in all, I think we'd be well advised to leave well alone. Tie up the letter – there – neatly – like that. (3.205)
Is this just passivity or is it cowardice? Is Guil breaking character here? Is this something to be suspected? By tying back up the letter and allowing things to take their course are they really just being passive or is this too a kind of action?
ROS: We hand over the letter, which may or may not have something in it to keep us going, and if not, we are finished and at a loose end, if they have loose ends. We could have done worse. I don't think we missed any chances… Not that we're getting much help… If we stopped breathing, we'd vanish. (3.213)
Is Ros starting to sound more like Guil here? Are these Ros's own ideas or is he soaking up Guil's manner of speaking?
PLAYER: We learn something every day, to our cost. But we troupers just go on and on. Do you know what happens to old actors?
PLAYER: Nothing. They're still acting. Surprised, then? (3.244-246)
What does the Player mean when he says that nothing happens to old actors? Does this mean that, despite the fact that they are always acting in their plays, they are still being passive in the real world?