Study Guide

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Manipulation

By Tom Stoppard

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People use each other quite a bit in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and part of the reason the main characters, Ros and Guil, are never in control of their situation is because they seem naively incapable of using the people around them. Manipulation, in many ways, is compared the act of directing a play – it's the ability to control the course of events. A play is explored as something that manipulates the audience: something that attempts to affect the way that they think and feel.

Questions About Manipulation

  1. How does Claudius manipulate Ros and Guil in the play? How do they not realize that they are being used, or do they?
  2. To what extent does the Player direct his troupe and attempt to please his audience, and to what extent does he manipulate both groups? Is he is manipulating them? If so, why?
  3. How do relationships in the play change when one character begins "using" another? Namely, what chance does Hamlet's friendship with Ros and Guil have after they come to him on Claudius's business?

Chew on This

Ros and Guil are too oblivious to be able to manipulate anyone. Their fate arises because they are manipulated by both Hamlet and Claudius, but for different and conflicting purposes.

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