"Give Us This Day, Our Daily Mask"

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Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Stoppard

EL237--Writing About Literature

 

Never...Never in my academic career have I read a play that took three acts to reason why our dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are merely pawn in Hamlet's game. The are too busy overanalyzing every situation they come across that it takes until the very end for them to realize that they were being set up to be killed by the influence of King Claudius.  One quote that had stuck with me throughout this painful reading of this play was "Give us this day, our daily mask". Just like in Hamlet everyone had an agenda, everyone was not who they claimed to be. Most of this seem to go over Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's heads as they babble on and on about spiritual, philosophical, and just pain arbitrary stuff. Everyone else is proudly wearing a mask that our beloved friends don't see. 

That is what continues to plague them...they think too much. Just like Hamlet, their intellectual thought process overcomes their gut intincts. But this thought process helped Hamlet in the end, but it did not do the same for our dear friends. If they held off with the rhetoric would they have forseen that they were being used?

4 Comments

Of course, they are academics, doing exactly what their training prepared them to do, and achieving nothing that their circumstances demand. (If only these guys had toughened up a little with some internships!)

Who knows. With the way Stoppard wrote them, though, I don't think they would have seen it. As Daniella wrote in her blog, they can't even remember which one is Guildenstern and which is Rosencrantz half of the time.

I actually wrote about one of the other instances that Guildenstern uses the "Give us this day" phrase (I SWEAR I didn't read your blog first. Kevin, why does this always happen to us?)

I don't really think that they are over-analyzing, I think they are more willfully ignoring their conclusions.

I too found the play frustrating to read. R and G pondered on non-sensical subjects, such as Guil's excruciatingly long monologue about how it could be possible for him to lose at heads/tails 80 some-odd times. Every time one would say something remotely intelligent, the other would say something that makes the reader go "oh god, they're idiots." I can think of one phrase, uttered about someone after a class last year, that describes R and G:

"Oh,_____. There's just no words to describe ___, is there? You see a glimmer of hope, and ___manages to screw it up 10 seconds later".