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Existentialism. What meaning can you find in the following quote?. “We are condemned to be free.” ~Sartre. Existentialism – What is it?. A complex philosophy emphasizing the absurdity of reality and the human responsibility to make choices and accept consequences!.

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What meaning can you find in the following quote
What meaning can you find in the following quote?

“We are condemned

to be free.”


Existentialism what is it
Existentialism – What is it?

A complex philosophy emphasizing the absurdity of reality and the human responsibility to make choices and accept consequences!

Existentialism where did it comes from
Existentialism – Where did it comes from?

  • Great Depression + WWII = deep sense of despair in society.

    • “Why are we living this life?”

  • “What is the point of our existence if it seems to be so horrible?” People began to analyze what it means to EXIST

Basic definition
Basic definition… question

  • existentialism is a philosophy concerned with finding self and the meaning of life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility

Life as an existentialist sees it
Life as an existentialist sees it question

  • Life is inherently meaningless. People must search to find out who and what they are throughout life as they make choices based on their experiences, beliefs, and outlook.

  • “Man is free to act, but he must act to be free.”

Ii the existentialist view of human nature
II. The Existentialist View of Human Nature question

  • 1. We have no predetermined nature or essence that controls what we are

  • 2. We are radically free to act independently of determination by outside influences.

  • 3. We create our own human nature through these free choices.

  • 4. We also create our values through these choices.

The downside of existentialism
The downside of Existentialism question

  • Although we have free will, we are thrown into a world we do not control and did not choose; this equals anxiety, dread and despair.

  • Anxiety: We are faced with the responsibility and consequence of choosing.

    • Dread: total freedom of choice can be overwhelming

  • Despair: We control our choices, but we live in a world we do not control.

Existentialism and theatre of the absurd
Existentialism and Theatre of the Absurd question

Theater of the Absurd (TOTA) takes the basis of existentialism and combines it with dramatic elements to create a style of theatre which cannot be logically explained. It accepts the absence of a guiding symmetry in the world. God doesn't exist, nor does any world order. Thus, our existence is reduced to a meaningless.

M an is not tragic or heroic; he is comic and pathetic. He is observed with both pity and humor by the audience. TOTA tries to express the senselessness of the human condition and the inadequacy of any rational approach to life. Unlike Modernist writers who pointed out, with awe and horror, life’s characteristics, the writers of TOTA don’t argue or comment on absurdity; they just present it.

So what does this have to do with r and g are dead
So……what does this have to do with questionR and G are Dead?

  • Key characteristics of an existential work include the presence of anti-heroes, unstable knowledge of the past, and unstable identities. Stoppard explores all of the following:

  • Identity

  • Alienation

  • Determination

  • Free Will

Identity question

  • Shakespeare’s Ros and Guil lack depth. In Stoppard’s play it is their lack of depth and inability to sustain action that is at the center of the events. In both plays they are indistinguishable and dispensable. Claudius, Gertrude, and even Hamlet call them by the wrong names; in fact Ros and Guil are often unable to distinguish themselves.

  • Stoppard humanizes Ros and Guil by imbuing them with a universal desire: the need for meaning. Even though they do not achieve this, the audience can sympathize with the characters as they vacillate between awareness and understanding .

Alienation question

  • Language acts as a barrier: it is confusing; logic is circular. The world is depicted as inexplicable and opaque. Characters are never able to achieve true understanding. Examples:

    • Verbal word play. – evasion is the object of the game "Questions.” Although they are talking to one another, no communication is being achieved.

    • Seeking clarity – Guil seeks to understand the world around him. He questions the coin that lands heads up nearly 100 times, he wants to know what is in the letter they have been sent, and finally, when they discover that death is inevitable, he is enraged primarily because they have been told so little throughout the process.

    • The goal of alienation is to remove the illusions of purpose and meaning from people's daily existence so that the audience gets a sense of their existential condition.

Determinism question

  • All events must play themselves out. The audience and the player are aware of this because both know the fate of Ros and Guil (hence the title of the work).

    • Example: the Player states, "There's a design at work in all art - surely you know that? Events must play themselves out to aesthetic, moral and logical conclusion."

  • The script of Hamlet controls Ros and Guil’s sense of identity. Stoppard uses Shakespeare's script to explore the very nature of being written versus writing, and the haunting possibility that the stage is a more accurate depiction of human existence than religious or philosophical theories.

Ros and guil and free will
Ros question and Guil and Free WILL

  • Free will is an illusion in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Instead of true choice, they are presented with limited alternatives.

    • “We are comparatively fortunate; we might have been left to sift the whole field of human nomenclature, like two blind men looting a bazaar for their own portraits...At least we are presented with alternatives."

  • All steps that Ros and Guil take to achieve free will lead them to the inevitable conclusion and the understanding that there is not free will.

Conclusion question

  • They are unable to see themselves reflected in the art of theater; they cannot foresee their fates, and thus cannot avert their own deaths.

  • Two beliefs about Ros and Guil’s fate:

    • In an existential world, man must act to be free. Ros and Guil do not act and passively follow the path they are given instead of making the choice for themselves.

    • Stoppard mocks man’s choices. When Ros and Guil act (choosing heads) it accomplishes nothing.

  • These two concepts connect to show the incomprehensibility the two men find in the world they live in. They cannot seem to find themselves, their place in the world, or the meaning of their lives.