Hamlet Analysis: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Essay

1088 Words 5 Pages
Throughout the play Hamlet, there are many symbols, characters, themes and motifs which have very significant roles. Within the context of characters, those with the greatest impact are more often the major characters than the less significant. However, in the case of one pair of characters, it is rather the opposite. The use of the characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet is for more than just comic relief. They are a representation of the betrayal and dishonesty that runs deep within the play.

Within their very first appearances in the play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern leave a memorable imprint upon the readers’ mind. They are rather blurred characters, with seemingly little personality and relatively little distinction
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In saying that playing the flute is “as easy as lying” (Ham. 3. 2. 87), the reader sees best the ease with which this dishonesty comes.

Also aiding in the expression of this concept of betrayal is the incident when Hamlet likens Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to a sponge. In this moment he expresses how they have soaked up the king’s commands and unflinchingly served their own purposes by doing such. What is most striking about this incident though, is the foreshadowing that it gives in regards to the fate of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (i.e. the betrayal in the play). When Hamlet states that “sponge, you shall be dry again” (Ham. 4. 2. 20-21) he is both foreshadowing the conclusion of the betrayal in the play and reinforcing the role that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have in characterizing this. By exposing the truth of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s deceptiveness, Shakespeare is exposing their identity, not as individuals, but as a concept.

Another aspect that is important to consider is how easy it was for Hamlet to have his friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern murdered, yet he

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