Comparative & Contrast: Hamlet & Guildenstern are Dead (Essay Sample)
You will write a 4-5 page draft essay that compares two different pieces of theatre or dance—or theatre and dance. As we have discussed in class, these pieces may be viewed at the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library (remember to make an appointment!) or you can choose to attend live performances anywhere in the city.
Reminder: You may view any of the following combinations:
- Two different pieces of dance
- Two different pieces of theatre
- A piece of dance and a piece of theatre
- Two different productions of the same piece of dance or theatre
- Two different versions of the same story (for example, a play and a dance that tell the same story)
- You may not use a movie version of a play or dance piece.
The essay may be written in either a point-by-point or a block structure, but must include the following information (based on the handout received in class on April 21—consult that for further information).
- An Introduction and Thesis that present the two pieces and explain why you are comparing / contrasting them
- Appropriate Background information for each production (company, year, venue, etc). You may use up to four (4) outside sources. You must include a separate Works Cited Page
- An Evaluation of each piece individually (your analysis, description, and evaluation)
- An evaluation that Compares/Contrasts the two pieces
- A Conclusion
This essay should showcase as many of the various techniques we have discussed during the semester as possible. Here are some elements to keep in mind as your write (the more of these you can include, the better):
- Strong Descriptive Writing (Description as Evidence)
- Sentences of Varied Lengths
- Well-Structured Paragraphs
- Active Verbs
- Counterarguments (if appropriate)
- The Creative use of Parallel Structure and/or Idiom
- Correct use of Outside Sources
- Comparative Language
Comparative & Contrast Two Plays
Mystery plays of the 15th and 16th centuries were different from the modern day theater plays. Theatre in the 15th century invoked a specific set of ideas that resonated with the happenings of the society like tragedies, romance, and understanding humanity. William Shakespeare comedies and tragic plays produced in the earlier centuries have influenced modern plays with most of them finding their origins from the medieval dramas. Shakespearean tragic comedies were centered on the human desire for love, their comedic pattern was a strategy used to show the decline and the fall of great heroes during his time.
Modern plays follow similar themes and setting like the mystery plays of the 15th and 16th centuries. William Shakespeare is an outstanding play writer of the medieval times and all his plays revolved around love, death, and humanity, reflecting the societal happenings during his time. In his plays, Shakespeare major characters had flaws that result in their death. Williams Shakespeare's character flaws are a unique element in most of his plays that still resonate in modern day life. Shakespeare is one of the most influential literary figure whose plays had a major impact on many contemporary authors.
This paper examines William Shakespeare character flaws in the play Hamlet comparing it with modern plays Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead a play written by Tom Stoppard to show how the plays were used to present modern social issues. The aim of the paper is to show that although play writers use similar themes and character structure, they also use other literary devices to present similar themes that resonate with modern day life.
William Shakespeare is an outstanding play writer of the medieval times, in his plays, Shakespeare major characters have flaws that result in their death. For example, Hamlet's flaw is his indecisiveness. Hamlet doubts that his uncle Claudius killed his father, it is through his father’s ghost that pushes him to review the incident (Goldman 103). Hamlet's lack of commitment is evident in the play in his relationship with Ophelia which is one of his major flaws. By the time Hamlet reaches a conclusion about his father's death and wants to revenge, the long waiting leads to his death and that of his mother and Ophelia (Goldman 146).
Modern play writers have used similar character structure and themes to address contemporary issues affecting the society. Stoppard 's play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead” is a story with the same plot like William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, but Stoppard focus on two insignificant characters. Stoppard plays first appeared in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1966 and later produced in London in 1967. In the play, both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are the major characters that enhance the plot. Stoppard uses two ordinary men who do not understand or cannot control their fate which is predetermined (Newman 48).
Stoppard 's play, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead” present modern day issues using similar plot and characters from William Shakespearean tragic plays ,but he uses a Beckettian setting. Stoppard's play presents different angles, offering the complex mixture of modern-day themes using a unique presentation, to produce a tragic-comic play. Stoppard's play looks at events from a commoners’ point of view (Newman 33), which is different from the Shakespeare portrayal of his characters.
Several similarities are visible in these two plays; the first similarity being the character structure which seems to be parallel with each other. For example, Shakespeare uses a foil, which is characters that contras...
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