Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead quotes

48 total quotes (ID: 1078)

The Player

To sum up: your father, whom you love, dies, you are his heir, you come back to find that hardly was the corpse cold before his young brother popped onto his throne and into his sheets, thereby offending both legal and natural practice. Now why exactly are you behaving in this extraordinary manner?

We only know what we're told, and that's little enough. And for all we know, it isn't even true.

Rosencrantz: Did you ever think of yourself as actually dead, lying in a box with a lid on it?
Guildenstern: No.
Rosencrantz: Nor do I, really. It's silly to be depressed by it. I mean, one thinks of it like being alive in a box. One keeps forgetting to take into account the fact that one is dead, which should make all the difference, shouldn't it? I mean, you'd never know you were in a box, would you? It would be just like you were asleep in a box. Not that I'd like to sleep in a box, mind you. Not without any air. You'd wake up dead, for a start, and then where would you be? In a box. That's the bit I don't like, frankly. That's why I don't think of it. Because you'd be helpless, wouldn't you? Stuffed in a box like that. I mean, you'd be in there forever, even taking into account the fact that you're dead. It isn't a pleasant thought. Especially if you're dead, really. Ask yourself, if I asked you straight off, "I'm going to stuff you in this box. Now, would you rather be alive or dead?" Naturally, you'd prefer to be alive. Life in a box is better than no life at all, I expect. You'd have a chance, at least. You could lie there thinking, "Well. At least I'm not dead. In a minute somebody is going to bang on the lid, and tell me to come out." [bangs on lid] "Hey, you! What's your name? Come out of there!"
[Long pause]
Guildenstern: I think I'm going to kill you.

Half of what he said meant something else, and the other half didn't mean anything at all.

Eternity is a terrible thought. I mean, where's it going to end?

Life in a box is better than no life at all, I expect. You'd have a chance, at least. You could lie there thinking, "Well. At least I'm not dead."

Whatever became of the moment when one first knew about death? There must have been one. A moment. In childhood. When it first occurred to you that you don't go on forever. Must have been shattering, stamped into one's memory. And yet, I can't remember it. It never occurred to me at all. We must be born with an intuition of mortality. Before we know the word for it. Before we know that there are words. Out we come, bloodied and squalling, with the knowledge that for all the points of the compass, there's only one direction, and time is its only measure.

We drift down time, clutching at straws. But what good's a brick to a drowning man?

Be happy – if you're not even happy, what's so good about surviving? We'll be all right. I suppose we just go on.

The scientific approach to the examination of phenomena is a defence against the pure emotion of fear.

The equanimity of your average tosser of coins depends upon a law, or rather a tendency, or let us say a probability, or at any rate a mathematically calculable chance which ensures that he will not upset himself by losing too much, nor upset his opponent by winning too often. This made for a kind of harmony and a kind of confidence; it related the fortuitous and the ordained into a reassuring union which we recognised as nature. The sun came up about as often as it went down in the long run, and a coin showed heads about as often as it showed tails.

You're familiar with the tragedies of antiquity, are you? The great homicidal classics?

What could we possibly have in common except our situation?

All your life you live so close to truth it becomes a permanent blur in the corner of your eye. And when something nudges it into outline, it's like being ambushed by a grotesque.

The colours red, blue and green are real. The colour yellow is a mystical experience shared by everybody. Demolish.