Tom Stoppard Essay Research Paper Tom Stoppard

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Tom Stoppard Essay, Research Paper Tom Stoppard: A Critic of The Modern Age Tom Stoppard is one of the twentieth century’s most interesting and creative playwrights. He uses his art form to criticize society’s inability to handle the thought that we are governed by chaos. The modern world has created fate as an excuse for not doing anything to shape or change our outcome. Stoppard uses his plays as a mirror held up to society, showing his audience the ridiculousness of leaving everything up to fate. Tom Stoppard is a contemporary playwright living in Great Britain. He was born in 1937 and produced his first successful play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in 1966. His more recent works include Travesties and Arcadia. The setting for these three plays are vastly

different; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern taking place at the time of Shakespeare, Travesties set during World War I and Arcadia taking place in 1809 and the present day. Yet, in all three settings, Stoppard created modern characters to reflect modern attitudes, and most specifically, modern flaws. In each case he shows that the characters representing modern men will readily believe that their future cannot be changed and that they are not responsible for their own acts. He uses different characters in vastly different circumstances to make and criticize this same point. In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Stoppard cleverly removes the characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from the play of Hamlet, extends Shakespeare’s caricatures of them and makes them modern. The

play is now about how Rosencrantz and Guildenstern present the viewer with an image of modern attitudes. They never perceive any kind of order in the universe. To them everything is completely random. On the other hand, the Player represents the epitomy of a person in denial of chaos. To him everything is set in stone, even death. In Travesties, Stoppard returns to the theme of chaos and how we react to chaos. He does this through portraying James Joyce, Tristan Tzara and the pre-Soviet Union Lenin, all famous men, through the eyes of one Henry Carr, a common man who wanted desperately to be famous, but who never succeeded. After interactions with these three famous minds on the subject of the role of the artist in a chaotic world, Carr decides to leave well enough alone in the

world and accepts the societal view often the best thing to do in the world is nothing, a view that Stoppard strongly disagrees with. In Arcadia, Stoppard decided to not only hold a mirror up to modern day society, but also to show comparisons between the modern-day society and the society of almost 200 years ago. His thesis is that in the 1800’s we were a society of “doers”, but now we are a society of “talkers.” The “talkers” cannot accept the complete unpredictability of chaos and therefore decide that fate rules all, while the “doers” are willing to take control of their situation. This difference between acceptors of fate and those who believe that they are in control of their destiny is the mirror that Stoppard once again holds up to his audience.

Throughout the course of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Stoppard mixes three different sets of characters that are crucial to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. These groups are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the troupe of players called the Tragedians and the main cast of Hamlet. The cast of Hamlet only speak in Shakespearean language and all of their lines are taken from the text of Hamlet. These characters voice Stoppard’s opinion on how people should be. They have a purpose. Although Hamlet’s purpose may be to avenge his father’s death, it still gives a purpose to his life. Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and the Tragedians speak in modern English and represent Stoppard’s comical opinion of current attitudes and beliefs. The troupe of players is the same troupe that perform the