• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"Schadenfreude" means 'taking pleasure out of someone else's misfortune.' Both "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" and the "Comedians," both use Schadenfreude in the creation of humour in the play. Compare its use in the two plays and it's success at

Extracts from this document...


"Schadenfreude" means 'taking pleasure out of someone else's misfortune.' Both "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" and the "Comedians," both use 'Schadenfreude' in the creation of humour in the play. Compare how Schadenfreude is employed in the two plays and it's success in creating humour Both of the plays "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" by Tom Stoppard and "Comedians" by Trevor Griffiths are extremely humorous and farcical plays. In order to generate the humour present throughout both of these plays, the writer's have used an array of techniques. However, whilst using a diverse range of these techniques, 'Schadenfreude' habitually is paramount in the writer's manufacturing of humour. Schadenfreude means acquiring gratification and amusement from someone else's misfortune. Schadenfreude is employed perpetually by both writers in these plays, where we the audience benefit from some of the characters infelicity. The play "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" by Tom Stoppard, is a comedy burdened with sadness. It is a play based around two comical, perplexing and entertaining characters, which as the title insinuates are called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The plot is linked into the famous play 'Hamlet' by William Shakespeare, and it is the job of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to find out why he is behaving so strangely and in such a threatening manner. They undertake this task with commendable persistency, but without vehemence, ingenuity or success and events move hastily out of their control. Because of the nature of these characters, schadenfreude is utilised on them in abundance and to admirable effect, as the audience certainly acquires a great deal of humour from some of the unfortunate happenings which occur. There are copious examples of schadenfreude in "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead," used at the expense of one or both of these two main characters. There are examples from the very start where at the cost of these characters integrity, we the audience are entertained. ...read more.


It is utilised to manufacture two characters that are unusually likeable to the audience. This is a very subtle but exceptionally clever literacy technique used by Stoppard in the play. Despite their lack of prosperity in the task that they are set to conduct in the play, they yield to their embarrassment and mocking in an excellent manner. Hence, in the end they are portrayed as exceedingly amiable characters to the audience, who are in the end sad to see their decease. With these two characters involved, along with their fastidious natures, Schadenfreude is consequently used in abundance in this play and in my assessment to marvellous effect in creating humour. I feel that schadenfreude is used perpetually in this play to put across serious points, as well as the synthesis of humour. Pragmatism means the reliance upon experience and practical possibility rather than upon principles worked out in advance of, and used in order to decide upon action. If these two characters had been more pragmatic in the way they set about trying to ascertain the reason for Hamlet's melancholy, then they may have been far more successful. Stoppard's serious point here, which uses schadenfreude as a device to express it, is that you should be pragmatic and decisive in life and not reflect on things too much as otherwise you will never get anywhere. I feel Stoppard inventively points out how we should not ponder on philosophies too much. In trying to work out the explanation to things which we will never know the true answer to anyway (for example Guildenstern's philosophy on fate, or probability), Stoppard feels we will spend most of our life thinking about things rather than actually making progress and really living life. Before both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are about to be executed, Rosencrantz asks "We've done nothing wrong have we?" Guildenstern's reply, "I cannot remember" backs up the point that he has got so implicated in contemplating and being reflective over certain things, that he cannot actually remember what he has done in life, and whether or not any of it was 'wrong.' ...read more.


In order to really create humour and make an audience laugh, the characters involved must make a joke out of themselves. It is far more successful to do this rather than mocking and embarrassing other cultures like the Irish and the Jewish, or particular races that may have a different coloured skin. This is why in my opinion "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" is the more successful play with the way that it utilises schadenfreude to manufacture humour. It uses it to mock the characters that it has in the play, in order to amuse the audience. When it is the characters who are the victims of schadenreude and the audience gets a laugh at their expense, then the readers or watchers of this play will not be hurt or embarrassed. However, because "Comedians" uses schadenfreude at the misfortune of certain cultures and races, then for many this will prove humiliating and hence not funny. The fact that Challenor who has lots of experience as to how to be really funny in front of an audience, at one stage in his analysis of the comedian's performance says, "The Cardinal sin for any performer is embarrassing the audience. You had 'em doing up their shoelaces and picking up old beer mats," exemplifies this point. Because Griffiths here is pointing out what is and isn't funny to the audience, this therefore possibly shows that he has purposefully used schadenfreude in this manner to portray a salient message. This is that to try and get a laugh at the expense of cultures or races is a totally inappropriate method, as was found out by particularly the character of Price in the "Comedians." It is by mocking and ridiculing the characters that are involved in the play, as is done to magnificent affect in the "Comedians," which is the method that the audience finds most humorous. It is for this reason that I think "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" is the most humorous play and is the most successful at utilising schadenfreude of the two. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Plays section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Plays essays

  1. Jumpers. The play is written by Tom Stoppard in 1972. The main theme of ...

    The entire play is a comedy. Costume There's a contrast between Dotty's and George's costumes.

  2. Road by Jim Cartwright - Notes on the plot and Subject matter of the ...

    This immediately gives the impression of a person who is very concerned about looking smart , but when he sits up you notice how tattered and old his clothes are which makes the atmosphere very depressing. After laying his shoes down he immediately starts ironing his tie and begins his monologue.

  1. My England by Clifford Oliver

    Perhaps Tony slightly sympathizes with Ant here. Ant talks to Tony using slang-words. Tony responds normally with formal English, his education reflects his use of language. As the audience knows Laura is a policewoman her uniform expresses a particular attitude, authority.

  2. Too much punch for Judy.

    Line (I say) Objective (what I want by saying this line) Action (what I do as I say the line) Means (how you do it) "Give me the keys" Give me the keys Request With hand in front "I'll always be there for mum" Be by mums side forever State

  1. Modern Irony

    This subject is an explanation of humanity's technological progression and our knowledge. The play attempts to allow the reader to grasp the many unknown or misunderstood concepts in life. "Mysteries" such as sex can only be acquired through practice and progression of time.

  2. Discuss The Ways In Which Ritual Is A Key Element In Both Content And ...

    It is human nature. Again, in Beckett's later play Endgame the audience sees his interpretation of human nature achieved through ritualistic means. Although the play does not have a religious theme as such, it is concerned with the futility of life.

  1. A Midsummer Night's Dream - Look at the presentation of the play within the ...

    a play of that type you would not be able to speak to the audience let alone confront them as it seems he is doing in this part. Another mistake is that of Quince when he uses too much alliteration at the beginning of the play, during his Prologue whilst the others act as he speaks or rather reads out.

  2. Drama Portfolio - Too much Punch For Judy

    It symbolises how Bob and Nob feel towards Judy and Jo. At that point I think that red spotlights should appear on Judy and Jo. This is because red symbolises the 'colour' of lips and lipstick colour worn, desire, passion, fire, and perhaps danger which could appeal to Judy and Jo.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work