Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead


Tom Stoppard

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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Characters


A schoolmate of Hamlet's whom Claudius hires with Guildenstern to spy on the Prince and convey him to execution in England, Rosencrantz is a minor character in Hamlet whom Stoppard expands into a lead… read analysis of Rosencrantz


Like Rosencrantz, Guildenstern is a minor character in Hamlet expanded by Stoppard into a protagonist. Stoppard describes Guildenstern as someone who, when losing a coin toss ninety times in a row, will be more… read analysis of Guildenstern

The Player

Jaded, domineering, loud-mouthed and long-winded, the Player is the leader of the Tragedians and frequently expounds on the view that humanity's only real understanding of death is as a melodramatic death on stage. Though Rosencrantzread analysis of The Player

The Tragedians

Garish, bawdy, and boisterous, the Tragedians make up the ragged and increasingly impoverished dramatic troupe led by the Player. Their theatrical specialties are "blood, love, and rhetoric," but especially "blood" – dying, the Player… read analysis of The Tragedians


The famously passive protagonist of Shakespeare's play, Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark, son to Gertrude, and nephew to Claudius who goes half-mad after his father dies and his mother marries Claudius. Fearful of… read analysis of Hamlet
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Hamlet's uncle and nemesis in Shakespeare's play who secretly murdered his own brother (Hamlet's father) and slimily marries his brother's widow Gertrude to assume Denmark's throne. Claudius hires Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on… read analysis of Claudius
Minor Characters
The lowliest member of the Tragedians who is perennially forced into playing female roles, Alfred is a miserable and unwilling actor who is frequently bullied by the Player and offered up as a prostitute for any paying audience member interested in cruder entertainments.
Polonius' daughter and Hamlet's love interest, Ophelia is a main character in Shakespeare's play whose frustration with Hamlet's madness and cruelty eventually drives her truly insane and leads her to commit suicide. In Stoppard's play, Ophelia barely speaks and appears on stage only to weep and suffer Hamlet's chasing.
Queen of Denmark, Gertrude is Hamlet's mother and Claudius' new wife. Worried about her son's growing bitterness and madness, Gertrude implores Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to do their best to glean the cause of Hamlet's changed character and, in Stoppard's play, appears only intermittently onstage.
The famously long-winded and foolish if well-meaning father to Ophelia, Polonius is accidentally murdered by Hamlet. Stoppard's play offers only a few glimpses of Polonius, first as a babbling buffoon, then as a corpse dragged along by Hamlet.
Hamlet's best friend and a major character in Hamlet, Horatio only makes one appearance on Stoppard's stage. At the end of the play, he holds Hamlet's corpse and speaks the lines that he speaks at the conclusion of Shakespeare's play, promising to tell the story of Hamlet's tragedy.
A Guard
A guard who briefly escorts Hamlet in Act Two.
A Soldier
A soldier who updates Hamlet on the approach of Fortinbras' troops in Act Two.
The Prince of Norway, Fortinbras appears only at the end of Stoppard's (and Shakespeare's) play, surveying the array of corpses on stage.
The Two Ambassadors
The two ambassadors appear only at the end of Stoppard's (and Shakespeare's) play, delivering the message from England that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have been executed.
Polonius' son and Ophelia's brother, Laertes is slain by Hamlet in a duel in Shakespeare's play. In Stoppard's play, Laertes appears only as a corpse on stage at the end.