Failure and Triumph in Rock ‘n’ Roll
The role of failure and triumph in the life of a human being is to demonstrate what he or she has done right and what he or she has done wrong. However, there is a fine line between the two, and something that originally may have been viewed as right could have changed into something wrong. In Tom Stoppard’s play Rock ‘n’ Roll, failure and triumph are both examined in a new light. The protagonist, Jan, stands firm in his support of personal freedoms, such as free speech and expression. The teacher and mentor figure Max is a die-hard communist who values his mind over his soul. Both of these figures are symbols of things that span across gaps in human understanding of truth and freedom. Jan stands for the Prague spring, freedom of expression, and democracy, whereas Max symbolizes order, censorship, and socialism. In terms of failure and triumph in the play, Max (communism) fails, while Jan (capitalism) triumphs.
Symbolically, democracy and modern-world thinking triumphed over socialism because intellectual life and personal freedoms were much more valuable than the “new politics.” As Stoppard writes in his introduction, “Jan insists that the Prague Spring was by no means ‘defeated’ by the Russian invasion” (Stoppard x). From Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being: “[The Prague Spring] retreated, yes, but it did not disintegrate, it did not collapse” (Kundera, Stoppard x). It was impossible to fully repress such an enlightening period of time in European history, and this struggle between old politics and new politics shook the country to the core. However, the failures and triumphs transcend beyond the text and plot of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The Russian invasion and the implementation of the “new politics” upon Czechoslovakia had a devastating effect on the human politics. “The Toulouse speech by itself is a mine of timely reminders of the need to put morality above politics, and nature above scientific...