Samuel Beckett was born near Dublin 1906. He graduated in Dublin in 1928. He worked in Paris at the Ecole Normale Superieure where he came in contact with avant–garde intellectuals and artists of the 1930s.
He joined the French Resistance during World War II. In these years he wrote an autobiographical novel: “Watt ” And Trilogy Molloy, Mallone Dies.
He wanted to explore and describe human conditions. He became famous with his first play: “Waiting For Godot” (1953). Later he got a Nobel Prize for literature.
Beckett wrote for the Theatre for over twenty years introducing the Theatre of the Absurd. All his plays deal with the inability to communicate and loneliness and human impotence and negation.
2. Waiting for Godot (1953)
It was performed in Paris in 1953. This play disrupted all the conventions of the traditional theatre rules because there was no plot, nothing happened.
The setting was a desert and there was only an object: a bare tree. Mr Godot, whose arrival appeared to be dissolution, never arrived. This work was a success and it was translated into many foreign languages and performed all over the world.
Features in ‘Waiting for Godot’
In Beckett’s theatre there’s a static world where things never change; they end in an endless circle. This is emphasized by physical condition and by the absence of the plot and the circular structure.
The characters seem to be imprisoned in a single place:
– the play is divided in two acts and it is about two French trumps, Vladimir and Estragon who spend their time waiting for Godot;
– the second act takes place the next day and repeats the structure of the first.
According to Beckett the same ideas and events are simultaneously tragic and comic.
In Godot nothing happens. We find a lack of events and the structure is circular and negative.
The setting and the time are always the same. The structure of the second act is symmetrical to the first: repetition of the things seen and heard in the first.
There’s a sense of endless repetition and people have the sensation that the events will happen many times again.
Characters haven’t memory in the first act, whereas in the second, neither Pozzo nor the messenger boy can remember.
Beckett’s works have a sense of immobility because there isn’t past or future.
All these works are timeless and the characters are obsessed with the problem of time and they try to fill it with dialogues waiting for somebody.
Characters are not clearly defined people. They have no personality and no memory. Waiting is an essential feature of the human condition, for these reasons Godot represents the objective of our waiting: an event, a thing, a person, death.
The disintegration of language
Beckett’s language is made up of stereotypes that represent the vacuity of ready made phrases. All the words pronounced by the characters are only away to fill days and nights.
Dialogues become more fragmented and broken in grammar and meaning.
Beckett emphasized the inadequacy of words with the use of mime and silence.