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Existence Precedes Essence

In: English and Literature

Submitted By tnthomp8
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Trevor Thompson The meaning of life has been a topic of discussion throughout history that has sparked interest within the philosophical world. People wonder whether every person has a certain role that they are destined to play or whether they instead have the free will to choose for themselves. The discussion about life’s meaning prompted the philosophy of existentialism. Existentialists believe that life is inherently without meaning until an individual creates the meaning of his or her own existence. Many pieces of literature have been examined and declared as existential pieces, with a lot of them falling into the realm of The Theater of the Absurd and therefore absurdism itself. These texts contain illogical reasoning, nonsensical dialogue, cyclical plots, and no horizon of significance. In this paper, I will argue that if one looks at Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead through an existential lens, they will see that it embodies the existential ideals of instability and that "existence precedes essence”. Instability is a key factor in an existential world. The stability that exists within most pieces of literature, namely created from the horizon of significance and the fulfillment of certain goals, does not appear. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead embodies the theme of instability because nothing that Rosencrantz, henceforth Ros, or Guildenstern, henceforth Guil, do actually allows them both advancement within the story. After flipping coins and landing on heads 92 consecutive times, Guil ponders how such a phenomenon could possibly occur. The act of flipping coins in general is to ensure that each person “will not upset himself by losing too much nor upset his opponent by winning too often” (Stoppard 18). The extraordinary performance by the coins is an example of the instability of the world since only Ros advances his pocket whilst Guil loses...

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