Moral Order in Shakespeare and Stoppard Comparison Essay by smarty91

Moral Order in Shakespeare and Stoppard
An examination of the nature of moral order in William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and Sir Tom Stoppard's "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead."
# 110009 | 1,716 words | 0 sources | 2007 | AU
Published on Dec 14, 2008 in Drama and Theater (English) , English (Comparison) , Shakespeare (Hamlet)

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This paper compares William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and Sir Tom Stoppard's "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead." It specifically explores how these works address the existence or the non-existence of God and the implications of this for moral order. It examines the plots of the plays and the major thematic issues that are presented by the writers.

From the Paper:

"In both plays, death is the pivot for the debate about moral order. In Hamlet, death has a specific function and is valued differently to in Ros and Guil. In Hamlet, death is essential to the grand order of things. Shakespeare's audience believed that we die in order to be judged by God on our life's actions. The ghost is a constant reminder of this. Hamlet's father was "doomed for a certain term to walk the night" because he was not able to absolved himself of his sins before he was murdered. Hamlet contemplates death in his soliloquies, most notably in his "to be or not to be" soliloquy, which reflected his sceptical humanist inclining. Hamlet rather impersonally considers the attractions of death, which he likens to a sleep, over life, whose pain seems unavoidable. It reflects on the metaphysical value of living and 'being' in the face of great dispair and loss, and invites the audience to consider the value of life and the ability of individual autonomy to rebel against dispair, reflecting the scepticism of Montaigne. But in the end he notes that the fear of possible suffering in the afterlife "that we know not of" (as opposed to the known evil that is life) tends to stop human beings from actively ending their existence. Hamlet thus shows a Christian humanist bent in probing humanist metaphysical questions."

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