Guildenstern Quotes in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990)


Guildenstern Quotes:

  • 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]

    Rosencrantz: "Hey you! What's your name? Come out of there!"

    Guildenstern: [long pause] I think I'm going to kill you.

  • Guildenstern: I think I have it. 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.

  • Guildenstern: I don't believe in it anyway.

    Rosencrantz: What?

    Guildenstern: England.

    Rosencrantz: Just a conspiracy of cartographers, then?

  • 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.

  • Rosencrantz: What's the matter with you today?

    Guildenstern: When?

    Rosencrantz: What?

    Guildenstern: Are you deaf?

    Rosencrantz: Am I dead?

    Guildenstern: Yes or no?

    Rosencrantz: Is there a choice?

    Guildenstern: Is there a God?

    Rosencrantz: Foul! No non sequiturs! Three... two, one game all.

    Guildenstern: What's your name?

    Rosencrantz: What's yours?

    Guildenstern: You first.

    Rosencrantz: Statement! One... love.

    Guildenstern: What's your name when you're at home?

    Rosencrantz: What's yours?

    Guildenstern: When I'm at home?

    Rosencrantz: Is it different at home?

    Guildenstern: What home?

    Rosencrantz: Haven't you got one?

    Guildenstern: Why do you ask?

    Rosencrantz: What are you driving at?

    Guildenstern: What's your name?

    Rosencrantz: Repetition! Two... love. Match point.

    Guildenstern: Who do you think you are?

    Rosencrantz: Rhetoric! Game and match!

  • The Player: There's a design at work in all art... events must play themselves out to an aesthetic, moral and logical conclusion. We aim at the point where everyone who is marked for death... dies. Generally speaking, things have gone about as far as they can possibly go when things have got about as bad as they can reasonably get.

    Guildenstern: Who decides?

    The Player: Decides? It is written!

  • [Guildenstern is pretending to be Hamlet]

    Rosencrantz: Let me get it straight. Your father was king. You were his only son. Your father dies. You are of age. Your uncle becomes king.

    Guildenstern: Yes.

    Rosencrantz: Unusual.

    Guildenstern: Undid me.

    Rosencrantz: Undeniably.

    Guildenstern: He slipped in.

    Rosencrantz: Which reminds me...

    Guildenstern: Well, it would.

    Rosencrantz: I don't want to be personal.

    Guildenstern: Common knowledge.

    Rosencrantz: Your mother's marriage.

    Guildenstern: He slipped in.

    Rosencrantz: His body was still warm!

    Guildenstern: So was hers.

    Rosencrantz: Extraordinarily...

    Guildenstern: Indecent.

    Rosencrantz: Hasty.

    Guildenstern: Suspicious.

    Rosencrantz: Makes you think.

    Guildenstern: Don't think I haven't.

    Rosencrantz: And with her husband's brother!

    Guildenstern: They *were* close.

    Rosencrantz: She went to him...

    Guildenstern: Too close.

    Rosencrantz: For comfort.

    Guildenstern: It looks bad.

    Rosencrantz: Adds up.

    Guildenstern: Incest to adultery.

    Rosencrantz: Would you go so far?

    Guildenstern: Never!

    Rosencrantz: 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 pops 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: I can't imagine.

  • Guildenstern: Wasn't that the end?

    Player King: You call that an ending? - with practically everyone still on his feet? My goodness, no - over your dead body!

  • Rosencrantz: Is that southerly?

    Guildenstern: We came from roughly south.

    Rosencrantz: Which way is that?

    Guildenstern: In the morning, the sun would be easterly. I think we can assume that.

    Rosencrantz: That it's morning?

    Guildenstern: If it is, and the sun is over there for instance, that would be northerly. On the other hand, if it's not morning and the sun is over there, that would still be northerly. To put it another way, if we came from down there, and it's morning, the sun would be up there, but if it's actually over there and it's still morning, we must have come from back there, and if that's southerly, and the sun is really over there, then it's the afternoon. However, if none of these are the case...

    Rosencrantz: Why don't you go and have a look?

    Guildenstern: Pragmatism. Is that all you have to offer?

    Rosencrantz: I merely suggest that the position of the sun, if it is out, would give you a rough idea of the time. Alternatively, a clock, if it is going, would give you a rough idea of the position of the sun. I forget which you are trying to establish.

    Guildenstern: I'm trying to establish the direction of the wind.

    Rosencrantz: There isn't any wind.

    [the shutters blow open and a paper windmill which Rosenkrantz is holding starts spinning]

    Rosencrantz: Draughts, yes!

  • Rosencrantz: Oh! You mean - you pretend to be *him*, and I ask you questions!

    Guildenstern: Very good.

    Rosencrantz: You had me confused.

    Guildenstern: I could see I had.

    Rosencrantz: How should I begin?

    Guildenstern: Address me.

    Rosencrantz: My honoured Lord!

    Guildenstern: My dear Rosencrantz!

    Rosencrantz: ...Am I pretending to be you, then?

    Guildenstern: Certainly not. Well, if you like. Shall we continue?

    Rosencrantz: My honoured Lord!

    Guildenstern: My - dear fellow!

    Rosencrantz: How are you?

    Guildenstern: Afflicted.

    Rosencrantz: Really? In what way?

    Guildenstern: Transformed.

    Rosencrantz: Inside or out?

    Guildenstern: Both.

    Rosencrantz: I see. Not much new there!

    Guildenstern: [shouting] Well, go into detail! Delve!

  • Guildenstern: Whose serve?

    Rosencrantz: Err...

    Guildenstern: Hesitation! Love... one.

    Rosencrantz: Whose go?

    Guildenstern: Why?

    Rosencrantz: Why not?

    Guildenstern: What for?

    Rosencrantz: Foul! No synonyms! One... all.

    Guildenstern: What in God's name is going on?

    Rosencrantz: Foul! No rhetoric! Two... one.

    Guildenstern: What does it all add up to?

    Rosencrantz: Can't you guess?

    Guildenstern: Were you addressing me?

    Rosencrantz: Is there anyone else?

    Guildenstern: Who?

    Rosencrantz: How would I know?

    Guildenstern: Why do you ask?

    Rosencrantz: Are you serious?

    Guildenstern: Was that rhetoric?

    Rosencrantz: No.

    Guildenstern: Statement! Two all. Game point.

  • Guildenstern: It could have been - it didn't have to be obscene! I was prepared. But it's this, is it? No enigma, no dignity, nothing classical, poetic - only this, a comic pornographer and a rabble of prostitutes!

    The Player: You should have caught us in better times. We were purists then.

  • Rosencrantz: [Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are about to be hanged] That's it then, is it? We've done nothing wrong. We didn't harm anybody, did we?

    Guildenstern: I can't remember.

    Rosencrantz: All right, then. I don't care. I've had enough. To tell you the truth, I'm relieved.

    Guildenstern: There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.

    The Player: Till then.

  • The Player: We're more of the love, blood, and rhetoric school. Well, we can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and we can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive. But we can't give you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory. They're all blood, you see.

    Guildenstern: Is that what people want?

    The Player: It's what we do.

  • Rosencrantz: What are you playing at?

    Guildenstern: Words. Words. They're all we have to go on.

  • Guildenstern: Rosencrantz?

    Rosencrantz: What?

    Guildenstern: Guildenstern?

    Rosencrantz: What?

    Guildenstern: Don't you discriminate at ALL?

  • Guildenstern: Why can't you ever say anything original? You never take me up on anything. You just repeat everything I say!

    Rosencrantz: I can't think of anything original! I'm only good in support.

    Guildenstern: I'm sick of making a running!

    [Rosencrantz begins to cry - Guildenstern puts an arm round him]

    Guildenstern: It's all right, I'll see we're all right.

    Rosencrantz: [sobbing] But we've got nothing!

    Guildenstern: We've got a letter.

  • Rosencrantz: Shouldn't we be doing something... constructive?

    Guildenstern: What did you have in mind? A short, blunt human pyramid?

  • Rosencrantz: So, we've got a letter which explains everything.

    Guildenstern: You've got it!

    Rosencrantz: I thought you had it.

    Guildenstern: I do have it.

    Rosencrantz: You have it?

    Guildenstern: You've got it!

    Rosencrantz: I don't get it!

    Guildenstern: You haven't got it?

    Rosencrantz: I just said that.

    Guildenstern: I've got it.

    Rosencrantz: Oh, I got it!

    Guildenstern: Shutup!

    Rosencrantz: Right.

  • Guildenstern: We're still finding our feet.

    The Player: I should concentrate on not losing your head.

  • Guildenstern: What's the first thing you remember?

    Rosencrantz: [thinks] No, it's no good. 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.

  • Guildenstern: [after questioning Hamlet] I think we can say we made some headway.

    Rosencrantz: You think so?

    Guildenstern: I think we can say that.

    Rosencrantz: I think we can say he made us look ridiculous.

    Guildenstern: We played it close to the chest, of course.

    Rosencrantz: Question and answer! Old ways are the best ways! He was scoring off us all down the line.

    Guildenstern: He caught us on the wrong foot once or twice, perhaps, but I thought we gained some ground.

    Rosencrantz: He murdered us.

    Guildenstern: He might have had the edge.

    Rosencrantz: Twenty-seven to three, and you think he might have had the edge? He *murdered* us!

    Guildenstern: What about our evasions?

    Rosencrantz: Oh, our evasions were lovely - "Were you sent for?" "My Lord, we were sent for." I didn't know where to put myself.

    Guildenstern: He had six rhetoricals.

    Rosencrantz: It was question and answer, all right. Twenty-seven questions he got out in ten minutes, and answered three! I was waiting for you to *delve.* "When is he going to start delving?" I asked myself.

  • Rosencrantz: [attempting to juggle a lot of items] Look at this.

    [proceeds to throw and drop all items]

    Guildenstern: Leave things alone.

    Rosencrantz: Sorry.

  • Rosencrantz: Do you want to play questions?

    Guildenstern: How do you play that?

    Rosencrantz: You have to ask a question.

    Guildenstern: Statement. One - Love.

    Rosencrantz: Cheating.

    Guildenstern: How?

    Rosencrantz: I haven't started yet.

    Guildenstern: Statement. Two - Love.

    Rosencrantz: Are you counting that?

    Guildenstern: What?

    Rosencrantz: Are you counting that?

    Guildenstern: Foul. No repetition. Three - Love and game.

    Rosencrantz: I'm not going to play if you're going to be like that.

  • Rosencrantz: Another curious scientific phenomenon is the fact that the fingernails grow after death, as does the beard.

    Guildenstern: What?

    Rosencrantz: Beard.

    Guildenstern: But you're not dead.

    Rosencrantz: I didn't say they only started to grow after death. The fingernails also grow before birth - though not the beard.

    Guildenstern: What?

    Rosencrantz: BEARD! What's the matter with you?


    Rosencrantz: The toenails, on the other hand, never grow at all.

    Guildenstern: The toenails on the other FOOT never grow at all.


  • Rosencrantz: [flips coin which lands as 'heads'] 78 in a row. A new record, I imagine.

    Guildenstern: Is that what you imagine? A new record?

    Rosencrantz: Well...

    Guildenstern: No questions? Not a flicker of doubt?

    Rosencrantz: I could be wrong.

  • [Rosencrantz has been flipping coins, and all of them are coming down heads]

    Guildenstern: Consider: One, probability is a factor which operates *within* natural forces. Two, probability is *not* operating as a factor. Three, we are now held within un-, sub- or super-natural forces. Discuss.

    Rosencrantz: What?

  • The Player: [after the performance in front of the servants] Are you familiar with this play?

    Guildenstern: No.

    The Player: A slaughterhouse, eight corpses all told.

    Guildenstern: [does a quick mental recount, then] Six.

    The Player: Eight.

    [the two tragedians who resemble Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are "hanged"]

    Guildenstern: Who are they?

    The Player: They're dead.

  • Rosencrantz: [Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have read the switched letter and learned that they will be executed] They had it in for us, didn't they? Right from the beginning. Who'd have thought we were so important?

    Guildenstern: But why? Was it all for this? Who are we that so much should converge on our little deaths?

    The Player: You are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. That's enough.

  • Rosencrantz: So, we've got a letter that explains *everything*?

    Guildenstern: You've got it.

    Rosencrantz: I thought *you* had it?

    Guildenstern: I *do* have it.

    Rosencrantz: You have it?

    Guildenstern: You've got it.

    Rosencrantz: I don't get it.

    Guildenstern: You haven't got it.

    Rosencrantz: I just said that!

    Guildenstern: I've got it.

    Rosencrantz: Oh, I've got it!

    Guildenstern: Shut up!

    Rosencrantz: Right.

  • Guildenstern: Where's Hamlet?

    Rosencrantz: Gone!

    Guildenstern: Gone, where?

    Rosencrantz: The pirates took him.

    Guildenstern: But they can't! We're supposed to be... We've got a letter which says... The whole thing's pointless without him. We need Hamlet for our release!

    Rosencrantz: I'll pretend to be... *You* pretend to be him, and... Right.


    Rosencrantz: I suppose we just go on.

    Guildenstern: Go where?

    Rosencrantz: England?

    Guildenstern: England. I don't believe it!

    Rosencrantz: What, just a conspiracy of cartographers, you mean?

    Guildenstern: [grabs Rosencrantz] I *mean* I don't believe it! And even if it's true, what do we say?

    Rosencrantz: We say, "We've arrived!"

    The Player: [as King of England] Who are you?

    Rosencrantz: We are Guildenstern & Rosencrantz.

    The Player: [as King] Which is which?

    Rosencrantz: Well, I'm Guildenstern.

    Guildenstern: And he's Rosencrantz.

    Rosencrantz: Exactly.

    The Player: [as King] What does this have to do with me? You turn up out of the blue with some cock-and-bull story...

    Guildenstern: We have a letter.

    [presents letter]

    The Player: [as King] A letter?

    [chuckles, takes letter]

    The Player: Hm.


    The Player: As England is Denmark's faithful tributary. As love between them, like the palm might flourish, et cetera, that on the knowing of these contents, without delay of any kind, should those bearers, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, put to sudden death.

    Rosencrantz: Not that letter. Give him the other one.

    Guildenstern: I haven't got another one.

    The Player: [shrugs, then yells to Tragedians] They're gone! It's all over!

    Guildenstern: Where we went wrong, was getting on a boat.

  • Guildenstern: 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: He's never known anything like it! But then, he has never known anything to write home about, so this is nothing to write home about.

  • [after stabbing the Player]

    Guildenstern: If this is our destiny, then that was his, and if there are no explanations for us, let there be none for him.

  • The Player: Why?

    Guildenstern: Ah, why?

    Rosencrantz: Exactly!

    Guildenstern: Exactly what?

    Rosencrantz: Exactly why?

    Guildenstern: Exactly why what?

    Rosencrantz: What?

    Guildenstern: Why?

    Rosencrantz: Why what exactly?

    Guildenstern: WHY IS HE MAD?

    Rosencrantz: I DON'T KNOW!

  • Guildenstern: Is that you?

    Rosencrantz: I don't know.

    Guildenstern: [in disgust] It's you.

  • Guildenstern: Hamlet's transformation - what do you recollect?

    Rosencrantz: [pause] Well, he's changed, isn't he?

  • Rosencrantz: What a shambles! We're just not getting anywhere! Not even England! And I *don't* believe in it, anyway!

    Guildenstern: In what?

    Rosencrantz: England.

    Guildenstern: Just a conspiracy of cartographers, you mean?

    Rosencrantz: I mean, I don't believe it! And even if it *is* true, the King of England won't know *what* we're talking about! What are we going to say?

    Guildenstern: We say, "Your Majesty, we have arrived."

    Rosencrantz: [as King of England] "And who are you?"

    Guildenstern: We are Rosencrantz & Guildenstern.

    Rosencrantz: "Never heard of you!"

    Guildenstern: Well, we...

    Rosencrantz: "What's your game?"

    Guildenstern: We have our instruction...

    Rosencrantz: "First I've heard of it!"

    Guildenstern: Let me *finish*!


    Guildenstern: We've come from Denmark.

    Rosencrantz: "What do you want?"

    Guildenstern: *Nothing!* We're delivering Hamlet.

    Rosencrantz: "Who's he?"

    Guildenstern: You've heard of him.

    Rosencrantz: "Oh, I've heard of *him*, alright, and I want nothing to do with him. You march in here without so much as a 'By your leave' and expect me to take in every lunatic you try to pass off with a lot of unsubstantiated..."

    Guildenstern: We've got a letter...

    Rosencrantz: "I see. *I see.* Well, this seems to support your story, such as it is. It is an exact command from the King of Denmark, for several different reasons, importing Denmark's health, and England's, too, that on the reading of this letter, without delay, I should have Hamlet's head cut off."

  • Guildenstern: It's aright. I'll see we're alright.

    Rosencrantz: But, we've got nothing to go on. We're out on our own.

    Guildenstern: We're on our way to England. We're taking Hamlet to the English king.

    Rosencrantz: What for?

    Guildenstern: 'What for?" Where've you been?

    Rosencrantz: When?

    Guildenstern: We've got a letter. You remember the letter?

    Rosencrantz: Do I?

    Guildenstern: Everything is explained in the letter.

    Rosencrantz: Is that it, then?

    Guildenstern: What?

    Rosencrantz: We take Hamlet to the English king. We hand over the letter. What then?

    Guildenstern: Well, that's it. We're finished.

    Rosencrantz: Who *is* the English king?

    Guildenstern: That depends on when we get there.

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