Study Guide

Alfred in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

By Tom Stoppard

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Alfred is the only character amidst the Tragedians. He is often emasculated, and the Player plans to make him wear a skirt for The Rape of the Sabine Women. Ros and Guil seem to have sympathy for him, perhaps because he is an early victim of the Player's tyranny.

When Guil questions him, Alfred admits that he doesn't like being an actor. Guil suggests that the two of them could create a "dramatic precedent" (1.248). What Guil means is that no two actors (that we know of) have ever just walked out of a play in the middle of it. Can you imagine going to see a play and having a few of the characters just walk off of the stage – Meh! We quit! This is one of those odd meta-moments in the play where Guil's situation makes sense in the context of the play, but it makes even more sense when you consider the fact that he and Alfred are two actors in a production of Tom Stoppard's play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. It's worth noting that Alfred was not in the original production of the play, but he is a testament to the fact that not everyone is as comfortable being an actor as the Player is.

Alfred in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Study Group

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