"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

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"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.  At the start of the play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern sit spinning coins and betting on the outcome.  Rosencrantz calls “heads” ‘seventy-six’ times and on each occasion he wins the bet, “Seventy- six in a row” he shouts in delight.  Much to the audience’s amusement we see a “redistribution of wealth” at the expense of Guildenstern, who has to hand over money eighty-nine times altogether.  However, despite this eventuality, he is largely unconcerned and uncomprehending.  Guildenstern on the other hand is bewildered and perplexed by this fluke, “A New World record I imagine.”  He is at an enigma as to how Rosencrantz could be so fortuitous.  Rosencrantz states how he has “Never known anything like it,” but at his expense the audience gets a laugh from Guildenstern’s reply to this, “One, he has never known anything like it.  Two, he has never had anything to write home about.  Three, it is therefore nothing to write home about.”  This amusing statement insults Rosencrantz’s naivety in life.  

Guildenstern surmises himself as a bit of a philosopher and comes up with a hypothesis for the “Law of averages,” that;

Guil:  “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”

Ros:  “Heads”    

This quote provides an example of where the audience gets a chortle at the misfortune of Guildenstern.  Rosencrantz says “heads,” as he has just won another bet at the expense of Guildenstern, but amusingly he also finishes off Guildenstern’s theory.  Guildenstern expresses how he feels that the run of the coin landing on ‘heads’ is about to end, “I can feel the spell about to be broken.”  However, much to his vexation and to our gratification the coin again lands on heads, and his “energy deflates.”  When Rosencrantz asks, “Have I won the game?” we get another hilarious scene this time at the expense of Guildenstern who interprets him as asking, “Were the monkeys game?” (Meaning sexually willing).      

It is then schadenfreude used against Rosencrantz, generates humour in the audience.  To the audience’s amusement many of the things that he talks about are extremely ‘childlike.’  A prime example of this is where he says; “Another curious scientific phenomenon is that the beard and fingernails grow after death.”  Rosencrantz follows this statement up with a fact that is extremely humerous for the audience, where he ludicrously says, “The fingernails also grow before death, but not the beard though.” This fact that he issues incontrovertibly exemplifies his naivety.  Guildenstern asks Rosencrantz about, “The first thing that you remember.”  To our amusement, Rosencrantz misinterprets him as asking about those memories that first enter his head, in response to the question.  To add to the humour, Rosencrantz then nonsensically says how he has forgotten the first thing that he remembers.  Then when he has the question  posed to him again he says, “I’ve forgotten the question.”  When Guildenstern asks, “How long have you suffered form a bad memory?” he then very amusingly replies “I can’t remember.”  This very comical episode for the audience exemplifies how Rosencrantz is not particularly perspicacious.  To the expense of Rosencrantz and to the audience’s facetiousness, we perpetually see him being incapable of following Guildenstern’s contorted arguments throughout the play.  Rosencrantz’s intellect is also ridiculed for the audience’s amusement and at his displeasure, when he experiments dropping both a wooden ball and a feather.  He says, “This is interesting.  You would think that this would fall faster than this wouldn’t you? (He then drops them both from the same height, and then suddenly realises the obvious result).  And you’d be absolutely right.”  This divulges that for a short period Rosencrantz thought that the feather could have fallen as fast as the wooden ball to the ground, which really ridicules his intelligence.  Despite being embarrassing for Rosencrantz, this is an extremely amusing image for the audience.  

At times Guildenstern loses patience with Rosencrantz’s deprivation of intellect, which is much to our amusement.  Evidence of this point is depicted by the quote where Guildenstern says to him, “Now mind your tongue or we’ll have it taken out and throw the rest of you away like a nightingale to a Roman Feast.”  Also when Rosencrantz immaturely talks about “What it would be like to be dead in a box,” Guildenstern very amusingly loses patience when he says, “I think I’m going to kill you.”  Guildenstern also gets exasperated with the fact that Rosencranz always copies what he says, which is backed up when he says, “Why don’t you say something original, you just take me up on everything.  I am sick of making the running.”  Rosencrantz spinelessly replies, “I cannot think of anything original,” which really exemplifies his unpretentiousness and lack of intelligence.

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Because of the prodigious contrast in these two main character’s intellect, there are perpetual misunderstandings and contrasting opinions through the play, much to our amusement, and often to their humiliation.  An example of dissimilarity in their opinions is shown after their first encounter with the delirious, tormented and disturbed Hamlet.  Guildenstern states his positive opinion on their meeting saying, “I think we made some progress.”  Then hilariously for the audience, Rosencrantz completely contradicts this statement, “I think he made us look a complete fool.”  Their diverging opinions are also shown when they are both on the ship ...

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