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Title: Remembering Hamlet : Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead and the tragic value of Hamlet
Authors: Fiott, Elsa
Keywords: Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Hamlet
Translating and interpreting
Classical literature
Issue Date: 2014-01
Publisher: University of Malta. Department of English
Citation: Fiott, E. (2014). Remembering Hamlet : Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead and the tragic value of Hamlet. Antae Journal, 1(1), 12-26.
Abstract: The canonical importance of Hamlet is indisputable, but the nature of its cultural value needs to be reconsidered in relation to our contemporary understanding of tragedy and death. Though the play has clearly stood the test of time, the shadow that Hamlet casts over literature and beyond has led to many reinterpretations, keeping the play’s cultural meaning in constant flux. Consequently, I would suggest that Hamlet’s original tragic value has in fact diminished and cannot be quite fully restored. I will argue that Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead holds a significant position in this history of Hamlet reworkings precisely because it captures the discontent and disillusionment that a contemporary audience might have with regards to the grandeur of Hamlet as a tragedy and its questionable treatment of death. Stoppard’s displacement of the iconic Hamlet gives us access to the play’s underbelly, which Stoppard attacks by questioning the credibility and relevance of the concept of agency in post-Beckettian theatre. As Hamlet, agency, and heroism are decentred, the tragedy of the unheroic non agent becomes all the more palpable, thereby resuscitating the poignancy of Hamlet without evoking its now inapt grandeur.
Appears in Collections:Antae Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1
Antae Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1

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