Tom Stoppard's "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" gains depth through its sustained allusion to Shakespeare's "Hamlet."

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In Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead many allusions are made to Shakespeare's Hamlet, adding depth to the play. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (Ros and Guil) would not exist without Hamlet and only come to life when that play begins. From the start of Stoppard's play the only sense of time is provided by its references to Hamlet. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a backstage look at Hamlet. Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead …

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…from a backstage point of view. Ros and Guil play small and almost insignificant parts in Hamlet because of the limited time they are actually on stage. The sustained allusion to Hamlet controls everything about Ros and Guil's fate, forcing them to follow a certain path throughout the play of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. This allusion enhances Stoppard's work by altering a historic story and showing what life was like for a bit player.