Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead quotes

48 total quotes (ID: 1078)

Guildenstern
Other
Rosencrantz
The Player


Guildenstern: A man, breaking his journey between one place and another, at a third place of no name, character, population, or significance sees a unicorn cross his path and disappear. That in itself is startling, but there are precedents for this sort of mystical encounter, or rather, a choice of persuasions to put it down to fancy, until – "My god!" shouts a second man, "I must be dreaming! I thought I just saw a unicorn!" At which point a dimension is added which makes the experience as alarming as it will ever be. A third witness, you understand, adds no new dimension, only spreads it thinner, and a fourth thinner still, and the more witnesses there are, the thinner it spreads and the more reasonable it becomes until it is as thin as reality – the name we give to the common experience. "Look! Look!" recites the crowd. "A horse, with an arrow in its forehead! It must have been mistaken for a deer!"
Rosencrantz: I knew all along it was a band.
Guildenstern: He knew all along it was a band.
Rosencrantz: And here they come!
Guildenstern: I'm sorry it wasn't a unicorn. It would have been nice to have unicorns.


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.

Player: Events must play themselves out to aesthetic, moral and logical conclusion.
Guildenstern: And what's that, in this case?
Player: It never varies – we aim at the point where everyone who is marked for death dies.
Guildenstern: Marked?
Player: Between "just desserts" and "tragic irony" we are given quite a large scope for our particular talent. Generally speaking, things have gone about as far as they can possibly go when things have gotten about as bad as they can reasonably get.
Guildenstern: Who decides?
Player: Decides? It is written.

Guildenstern: What's the first thing you remember?
Rosencrantz: Oh, let's see. … The first thing that comes into my head, you mean?
Guildenstern: No – the first thing you remember.
Rosencrantz: Ah. … No, it's no good. It's gone. It was a long time ago.
Guildenstern: No, you don't take my meaning. What's the first thing you remember after all the things you've forgotten?
Rosencrantz: Oh, I see … I've forgotten the question.

Rosencrantz: Shouldn't we be doing something – constructive?
Guildenstern: What did you have in mind? … A short, blunt human pyramid …?

Guildenstern: A man talking sense to himself is no madder than a man talking nonsense not to himself.
Rosencrantz: Or just as mad.
Guildenstern: Or just as mad.
Rosencrantz: And he does both.
Guildenstern: So there you are.
Rosencrantz: Stark raving sane.

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.

Guildenstern: The law of probabilities states that if six monkeys were … if six monkeys were …
Rosencrantz: Game?
Guildenstern: Were they?
Rosencrantz: Are you?
Guildenstern: Game. The law of probabilities states that if six monkeys were thrown up in the air for long enough, they would land on their tails about as often as they would land on their …
Rosencrantz: Heads.
Guildenstern: Which even at first glance doesn't strike one as a particularly rewarding speculation in either sense … even without the monkeys. I mean, you wouldn't bet on it. I mean, I would, but you wouldn't.

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?

Guildenstern: What a shambles! We're just not getting anywhere.
Rosencrantz: Not even England. I don't believe in it anyway.
Guildenstern: What?
Rosencrantz: England.
Guildenstern: Just a conspiracy of cartographers, you mean?

Rosencrantz: Do you think Death could possibly be a boat?
Guildenstern: No, no, no … death is not. Death isn't. Take my meaning? Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can't not be on a boat.
Rosencrantz: I've frequently not been on boats.
Guildenstern: No, no … what you've been is not on boats.

Guildenstern: Rosencrantz?
Rosencrantz: What?
Guildenstern: Guildenstern?
Rosencrantz: What?
Guildenstern: Don't you discriminate at all?!

Guildenstern: Is that you?
Rosencrantz: I don't know.
Guildenstern (disgusted): It's you.

The Player: The old man thinks he's in love with his daughter.
Rosencrantz: Good God. We're out of our depths here.
The Player: No, no, no! He hasn't got a daughter! The old man thinks he's in love with his daughter.
Rosencrantz: The old man is?
The Player: Hamlet … in love … with the old man's daughter … the old man … thinks.

We do on stage things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else. Sometimes quoted as: Every exit is an entrance somewhere else.