Tom Stoppard Essay

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Tom Stoppard

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
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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.

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