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The strategies of waiting : a study of action in Samuel Beckett's plays White, Richard Kerry 1968

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THE STRATEGIES OP WAITING A Study of Action i n Samuel Beckett's Plays fey RICHARD KERRY WHITE A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OP THE REQUIREMENTS POR THE DEGREE OP MASTER OP ARTS i n the Department of Theatre We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OP BRITISH COLUMBIA August, 1968 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f t h e r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an a d v a n c e d d e g r e e a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I a g r e e t h a t t h e L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e a nd S t u d y . I f u r t h e r a g r e e t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may be g r a n t e d b y t h e Head o f my D e p a r t m e n t o r b y h i i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s u n d e r s t o o d t h a t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l n o t be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . D e p a r t m e n t o f Theatre The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a V a n c o u v e r 8, C a n a d a D a t e August. 1Q68 i i ABSTRACT This essay i s p r i n c i p a l l y concerned with the nature and p o s s i b i l i t i e s of action i n Samuel Beckett 1s four major stage plays: Waiting f o r Godot. Endgame. Krapp's Last Tape, and Happy Bays. The problem arises from the faet that each of these plays i s organically inconclusive, i n d i c a t i n g that the action i s not causally structured i n the Aristotelean sense. Action i s therefore examined i n terms of the characters' separate a c t i v i t i e s : how they are i n i t i a t e d and terminated, t h e i r i n t e r n a l order, and th e i r r e l a t i o n to each play as a whole. The three basic sources employed f o r c r i t e r i a are Beck-ett's c r i t i c a l essay, Proust; h i s early novels, Murphy and Watt; and Johan Huizinga's Homo Ludens. Proust provides a clear i n d i c a t i o n of Beckett's theories on time, habit, and friendship; Murphy and Watt are seen as character prototypes; and Homo Ludens i s useful i n that i t supplies a working def-i n i t i o n of play. After a detailed examination of each play i n the above terms, the general conclusion reached i s that i n a l l cases Beckett has portrayed a state of being as opposed to a pro-cess of becoming. In other words, the characters f e e l and act as though they are caught i n an endless present: i n th e i r situations they f e e l cut o f f from t h e i r past, and at the same time they cannot plan and project t h e i r a c t i v i t i e s to-i i i ward a known goal, f o r the future i s completely uncertain. Consequently, aside from those moments when the characters have no e f f e c t i v e control over t h e i r actions, and aside from those actions governed by some form of necessity, everything they do during the course of the plays i s done simply to f i l l the enormous void of time. Considered separately, each a c t i v i t y or strategy of waiting i s seen to conform to the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of play as defined by Huizinga, and furthermore, each a c t i v i t y i s seen as a habitual response to r e a l i t y . The s i m i l a r i t i e s between one a c t i v i t y and another are conditioned by two fundamental f a c t o r s : a subject-object dichotomy, or the r e l a t i o n between the i n d i v i d u a l , the world, and other people; and death, the one event i n human l i f e which i s certain, but not f i x e d . The differences between the various a c t i v i t i e s , on the other hand, are conditioned primarily by the ages of the characters: the older a character i s the more he loses contact with the world and other people, and t h i s a f f e c t s the scope of h i s a c t i v i t i e s . I t i s f i n a l l y concluded that Beckett has portrayed the fundamental i s o l a t i o n of western man—the tragicomedy of individualism. Cut o f f from others and time, man's habitual response to l i f e and the external world has been to devise strategies of waiting f o r the time when i t w i l l a l l end. i v CONTENTS Introduction 1 Chapter One: Proust, Murphy, and Watt ...... 6 Chapter Two: Waiting f o r Godot 1 9 Chapter Three: Endgame 55 Chapter Pour: Krapp's Last Tape ............ 74 Chapter Five: Happy Days 81 Conclusion 9 2 Bibliography • 100 Appendix • 103 1. INTRODUCTION The p r i n c i p a l concern of t h i s essay i s to examine the nature and p o s s i b i l i t i e s of human action i n Samuel Beckett's four major stage plays. I f e e l that t h i s i s the key issue i n these plays because i n a state of seemingly endless wait-ing, a s i t u a t i o n faced by each of the characters, the problem of passing the time i s paramount. The reason f o r t h i s i s that boredom lurks behind waiting as an ever present threat, and the longer waiting i s protracted, the more i n t o l e r a b l e bore-dom becomes. Consequently, i f waiting i s both unavoidable and continuous (in a hypothetical s i t u a t i o n ) , boredom becomes the arch-enemy, and i f i t cannot be defeated, i t must at l e a s t be held at bay by any strategic means possible. Prom a general point of view we should be able to out-l i n e the l i m i t a t i o n s on the nature and extent of action i n a state of waiting. In the f i r s t place, the a c t i v i t i e s of "ordinary" l i f e would seem to be suspended because the wait-ing may be terminated at any moment, thus preventing contin-u i t y and projected action. In other words, as f a r as r a t i o n -a l l y structured action i s concerned, the past provides b u i l d -ing blocks f o r the future, but i n a state of waiting the past i s of no p r a c t i c a l value because the future cannot be planned. Consequently, we should suspect that action under these con-2 dit i o n s cannot be causally structured i n the Aristotelean sense, but that i t must be l i m i t l e s s : i t can begin and end anywhere and i t s i n t e r n a l structure i s a r b i t r a r y — a t l e a s t to the extent that one a c t i v i t y i s not necessarily condit-ioned by i t s predecessor. Rather, the duration and order of the a c t i v i t i e s are obviously conditioned "by chance and by the response of those who wait to t h e i r situations. We are therefore primarily concerned with t h i s response of the char-acters i n the four plays under d i s c u s s i o n — t h e i r attitudes toward the endless amount of time at the i r disposal and the nature of the a c t i v i t i e s they devise to f i l l t h i s time. Action i n a state of waiting would also seem to be re-s t r i c t e d s p a t i a l l y , and not simply because time and space are in t e r r e l a t e d , but because of the nature of waiting i t s e l f . I f a character i s waiting f o r a person—as i n Waiting f o r  Godot—he i s r e s t r i c t e d to a s p e c i f i c meeting place, but i f he i s "waiting" f o r death—as i n Endgame, Krapp's Last Tape, and Happy Lays—he i s r e s t r i c t e d by a decreasing mobility as old age incapacitates him. In either case, however, the character i s cut o f f from the space surrounding him to the extent that i t too becomes a void, a "nothingness." His a c t i v i t y i s therefore confined to a l i m i t e d space and t h i s n a t u r a l l y has an e f f e c t on the nature of h i s a c t i v i t y . Under these r e s t r i c t i v e conditions, the a c t i v i t i e s of those who wait seem to bear a strong resemblance to the a r t -i f i c i a l quality of play and i t s s p e c i f i c v a r i a t i o n s , a r t and 3 games. In a study of the play element i n culture, Johan Huizinga has a r r i v e d at a number of the basic c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of play which can serve as tentative c r i t e r i a f o r the study of action i n Beckett's plays. According to Huizinga, play i s a voluntary a c t i v i t y i n that i t i s free from physical nec-essity and moral duty; play sets i t s e l f o f f from ordinary l i f e and into a world of i t s own; play proceeds within i t s own boundaries of space and time according to f i x e d rules; 1 and f i n a l l y , play creates an order of i t s own. In connec-tion with t h i s l a s t c h a r a c t e r i s t i c we might add Marshall Mc-Luhan's important observation that play (or a s p e c i f i c game) tends to be a model of a culture i n that games incorporate the actions and reactions of a society i n a single dynamic image. Art forms, of course, also f a l l into t h i s category, and i t i s i n t h i s sense that we can examine Beckett's plays as dramatic metaphors—hypothetical situations presented as models of modern western c u l t u r e — r a t h e r than as l i t e r a l im-i t a t i o n s of r e a l i t y . Whether or not these plays are v a l i d models i s not the concern of t h i s i n vestigation, we can only ask that each play consistently adheres to i t s own hypothet-i c a l conditions. We should now be able to summarize the various questions to be taken into consideration i n our analysis of the action i n Beckett's plays. In the f i r s t place, we are interested only i n that type of a c t i v i t y which i s undertaken f r e e l y . This means that we must d i f f e r e n t i a t e between those a c t i v i t i e s 4. undertaken from necessity—which would include spontaneous r e a c t i o n s — a n d those which we s h a l l c a l l the strategies of waiting. Once t h i s i s done we must examine the nature of these strategies, how they are i n i t i a t e d and terminated, t h e i r i n t e r n a l order, and t h e i r r e l a t i o n to the play as a whole. In addition, attention must he paid to each charac-ter's personality i n so f a r as i t a f f e c t s h i s a b i l i t y to de-vi s e and take part i n these strategies. F i n a l l y , the nature and extent of the hypothetical conditions of each play must be examined because they are the conditions which r e s t r i c t the actions of the characters. 5 INTRODUCTION—NOTES Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element  i h Culture (Boston: Beacon, 1 9 5 5 ) , pp. 7 - 8 . 2 Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Mediat The Extensions of  Man (Toronto: New American Library, 1 9 6 6 ) , pp. 2 1 0 - 2 1 1 . 6 CHAPTER ONE PROUST, MURPHYand WATT To the reader of Beckett's works one f a c t soon becomes quite c l e a r — t h a t they are c l o s e l y related by theme, charac-ter type, and meaning. In so f a r as t h i s i s truei Beckett's early works can provide us with a useful introduction to the plays under consideration. The f i r s t serious work with relevance to the strategies of waiting i s Beckett's essay on Proust, published i n 193^, i n which certain important concepts are te n t a t i v e l y explored,, namely time, memory, friendship, and communication. Of these concepts perhaps time i s the most important, since i t acts as the antagonist i n the plays and as such i t influences the structure and outcome of the waiting. In Proust Beckett f i r s t describes the e f f e c t of time on both the subject (man) and the object of desire (whether the object i s a lover, a f r i e n d , death, or Godot). Man i s a creature of time and i s therefore i n a constant state of fluxs The i n d i v i d u a l i s the seat of a constant process of deeantation, decantation from the vessel containing the f l u i d of future time, sluggish, pale and monochrome, to the vessel containing the f l u i d of past time, agitated 1 and multicoloured by the phenomena of i t s hours. In t h i s constant process of change, both physical and mental, 7 self-awareness i s a constant motivating factor—man i s always aware of change and aware that he cannot escape i t . Consequently, i n the pursuit of an object, disappointment i s i n e v i t a b l e : "what i s attainment? The i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of the subject with the object of h i s desire. The subject has 2 died—and perhaps many times—on the way.H The f e e l i n g that the future (along with the object of desire) can be controlled i s u t t e r l y destroyed by f i x i n g the future event with a d a t e — i t then becomes i n e v i t a b l e . But when that f u t -ure i s death, i t can be neither controlled nor f i x e d — i t recedes before the subject " i n d i s t i n c t and abstract."-* This, then, seems to be the basic c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of time as i t i s experienced i n the plays: the future event i s always a l i t t l e f arther away from the character(s), just as a hyper-b o l i c curve moves closer but never touches i t s axis, or, to use a more appropriate image from Endgame, the heap of m i l -l e t always increases but i s never complete. Prom t h i s point of view, therefore, planned action .. (which involves both the past and future) i s f u t i l e since control of, or s t a b i l i t y i n , the future event i s only an optimistic delusion: 5Jhe poisonous ingenuity of Time i n the science of a f f l i c t i o n i s not l i m i t e d to i t s action on the subject.... Exemption from i n t r i n s i c f l u x i n a given object does not change the f a c t that i t i s the c o r r e l a t i v e of a subject that does not enjoy such immunity. The observer i n f e c t s the observed with h i s own mobility. 4 . We need only substitute the word "waitor" f o r "observer" i n 8. the l a s t sentence above to make the issue clear. Por t h i s reason, f o r example, we may c a l l Vladimir an optimist: he continually expects Godot to a r r i v e at a certa i n time (even though he has forgotten what that time i s ) , but Godot does not come. When the object of desire i s another human being (and here we move into the area of love and friendship), "we are faced by the problem of an object whose mobility i s not merely a function of the subject's, but independent and per-sonals two separate and immanent dynamisms rel a t e d by no system of synchronization." • Just how accurately t h i s rather uncompromising statement r e f l e c t s Beckett's personal attitude toward friendship i s of course a matter of major concern i n our examination of the plays, since the degree of co-operation and communication possible between partners i n the game against time should have some e f f e c t on t h e i r success. Beckett f i r s t defines friendship (ostensibly i n r e l a t i o n to Proust) roughly as a function of cowardice—cowardice because i t i s s e l f - f e a r : The exercise of friendship i s tantamount to a s a c r i f i c e of that only r e a l and incommun-ic a b l e essence of oneself to the exigencies of a frightened habit whose confidence requires to be restored by a dose of attention. I t represents a f a l s e movement of the s p i r i t — from within to without ...to the abject and i n d i g e s t i b l e husks of di r e c t contact with the material and concrete.° I t should be noted, before we go further, that i n a l l of t h i s there i s a strong h i n t of Beckett's personal distaste f o r human contact which, when combined with h i s portrayal of 9. characters whose bodies are i n many forms of advanced decay, comes close to being an obsession. Por t h i s reason, the e f f e c t of time on the body i s only a p a r t i a l explanation of the existence of characters who cannot s i t down, who cannot laugh, and who l i v e i n garbage cans, th e i r stumps embedded i n t h e i r own excrement. Actually, t h i s attitude betokens a con-f l i c t between concrete and material r e a l i t y , which i s subject to the ravages of time, and an extra-temporal essence i n f l i g h t from that r e a l i t y . The inescapable presence of dec-aying bodies i s not going to help f o s t e r a close friendship. In any case, friendship i s not only a form of s e l f - f e a r , i t i s also a negation of solitude, and f o r t h i s reason char-acters who fear solitude do not leave t h e i r "friends" alones every time Estragon f a l l s asleep Vladimir wakes him up, and every time Clov leaves the room, Hamm whistles him back. True friendship, however, i s f i n a l l y impossible because meaningful communication between subject and object i s im-possible : There i s no communication because there are no vehicles of communication. Even on the rare occasions when word and gesture happen to be v a l i d expressions of personality, they lose t h e i r significance on t h e i r passage through the cataract of the personality that i s opposed to them. Either we speak and act for o u r s e l v e s — i n which case speech and action are distorted and emptied of t h e i r meaning by (the other) or else we speak and act for o t h e r s — i n which case we speak and act a l i e . ' The i m p o s s i b i l i t y of communication does not imply, of course, that conversation i s impossible, although t h i s too becomes attenuated i n the plays. Conversation without communication 10 can and does, as we s h a l l see i n the plays, have certain s p e c i f i c r e s u l t s . The dialogue either becomes a meaningless babble between characters who t r y to communicate but f a i l , (thus becoming a source of i r r i t a t i o n ) , or i t becomes a co-operative s t r a t e g y — t h a t i s , the characters t a c i t l y agree to leave subjective or personal matters out of the conversation and simply play with words i n an e f f o r t to pass the time. However, t h i s i s a matter which s h a l l be dealt with i n the discussion of the plays. Beckett c a l l s memory and habit "attributes of the time Q cancer" with the former subject to the more general laws of the l a t t e r , which i n turn i s a function of the subject's desire to escape the r e a l i t y of the world i n which he must l i v e s Habit i s a compromise effected between the i n d i v i d u a l and h i s environment, or between the i n d i v i d u a l and h i s own organic eccentri-c i t i e s , the guarantee of a d u l l i n v i o l a b i l i t y l i f e i s a succession of habits, since the ind-i v i d u a l i s a succession of i n d i v i d u a l s ; the world being a projection of the in d i v i d u a l ' s consciousness, the pact must be continually renewed....9 Habit, then, i s not a condition, but an active agent, and as sueh i t operates as a strategy. Routine i s habit, and when waiting i s f i l l e d with routine, i t too i s habit. But when habit breaks down, the i n d i v i d u a l s u f f e r s : The periods of t r a n s i t i o n that separate con-secutive adaptations ...represent the per-i l o u s zones i n the l i f e of the i n d i v i d u a l , when f o r a.moment the boredom of l i v i n g i s replaced by the suf f e r i n g of being....»0 11. While habit i s a minister of boredom, i t i s also an "agent of s e c u r i t y , " but c e r t a i n l y no guarantee: When i t Chabit] i s opposed by a phenomenon that i t cannot reduce to the condition of a comfortable and f a m i l i a r concept ... i t betrays i t s t r u s t as a screen to spare i t s v i c t i m the spectacle of r e a l i t y , i t d i s -appears, and the victim, f o r a moment free, i s exposed to that r e a l i t y . Moments l i k e these are frequent i n Beckett's plays—even the most successful adaptation, Winnie's, has moments of anguish when her routines or strategies break down and she i s exposed to the "spectacle of r e a l i t y , " the r e a l i t y of waiting. According to Beckett, the key to Proust i s h i s use of time i n r e l a t i o n to memory. Here Beckett distinguishes be-tween what Proust c a l l s "voluntary" and "involuntary" memory. Involuntary memory occurs when something which has been f o r -gotten i s r e l i v e d i n i t s entirety i n the present, " i t i s at once imaginative and empirical, at once an evocation and a 12 d i r e c t perception, r e a l without being merely actual." Voluntary memory, on the other hand, does not bring anything 1 ^5 to l i f e because i t was never dead. J The experience of i n -voluntary memory (which cannot be consciously controlled), because i t makes the past i d e n t i c a l with the present, comm-unicates an extra-temporal essence, and i t follows, Proust claims, that the communicant i s f o r the moment an extra-temporal being. Theoretically, however, involuntary memory i s not a possible source f o r the strategies of waiting u n t i l a f t e r i t has occurred because i t i s not a conscious process. When, on the rare occasion that i t does occur, i t may or may 12. not be used depending on i t s c o n t e n t — i f i t i s p a i n f u l , i t w i l l be forgotten as quickly as possible. In addition, even voluntary memory must pose a dilemma fo r those who are caught i n a perpetual state of waiting: on the one hand, memory i s a p a i n f u l reminder of t h e i r temporal natures, while on the other hand, the past i s i r r e l e v a n t to them i n t h e i r s i t u a t i o n . Consequently, the content of memory can only become a s t r a t -egy by becoming o b j e c t i f i e d and thus turned into something which i s no longer part of the s e l f , such as an art form. As we s h a l l see l a t e r , t h i s i s what Hamm does when he composes hi s "narrative," and i t i s also what Krapp does when he mech-anizes h i s experiences and plays them back at a l a t e r date. As f a r as Proust i s concerned, we have t e n t a t i v e l y est-ablished a number of concepts which may a f f e c t the strategies of waiting. In the f i r s t place, time has an ambivalent eff e c t on the i n d i v i d u a l : while he i s i n a constant process of change involving an accumulation of experiences, he i s unavoidably cut o f f from any object of h i s desire including the future, and t h i s means that h i s past i s of no p r a c t i c a l use to him. Secondly, friendship i s a form of s e l f - f e a r and protection from solitude, but at the same time i t i s f i n a l l y impossible because communication between in d i v i d u a l s i s imp-oss i b l e . (Thirdly, habit provides protection against the v i c i s s i t u d e s of r e a l i t y , but i t i s constantly breaking down, necessitating new adaptations. F i n a l l y , memory, which i s a temporal medium, i s a reminder of the process of change and since i t i s therefore both painful and i r r e l e v a n t , i t B 13. content i s best forgotten or f i c t i o n a l i z e d . As we might suspect from the foregoing, there tend to be two basic character types throughout Beckett's work—one we can describe as the s e l f i n r e t r e a t or the "underground M man of modern western l i t e r a t u r e (described by Frederick J . Hoffman i n Samuel Beckett; The Language of S e l f ) , and the other as the " r a t i o n a l M man. While Beckett usually pushes each of these types to comic extremes, each contains enough of the other's c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s to be tinged with tragedy. These ty p e s — t h e prototypes of the characters i n the p l a y s -are i n i t i a t e d i n M s early novels. Beckett himself intimated t h i s when he stated i n an interview that i f we want to d i s -cover the o r i g i n s of Waiting f o r Godot, and by extension the r e s t of h i s plays, we should look at h i s f i r s t novel, Murphy, published i n 1938. 1 5 The l i n e which ends (as f a r as we are concerned) with W i l l i e i n Happy Dajys a c t u a l l y begins with Belaqua i n More 16 Pricks than Kicks. Belaqua i s a l e t h a r g i c l o a f e r who bumbles from one adventure to another,but who, l i k e h i s name-sake i n Dante's Purgatorio (Canto IV), would rather be l e f t alone i n a d i t c h to wait out h i s weary existence. The "ditch" or Purgatory, according to Beckett, i s that area which l i e s between the extremes of unrelieved viciousness (Hell) and unrelieved tedium (Heaven) and which i s the meeting place 17 f o r the forces of these extremes. This type i s more ex-p l i c i t l y developed i n Murphy, where the hero i s torn between h i s desire f o r C e l i a , who would have him become an employed H member of society (thus being of some p r a c t i c a l use to her), and h i s quest for the essence of s e l f , a search which leads him to the Magdalen Mental Mercyseat, the asylum where he meets Mr. Endon, a catatonic schizophrenic. C e l i a means involvement, i n the world and with people, whereas the asylum represents a retreat from the world of reason and f r u s t r a t i o n . This c o n f l i c t between the "big world" and " l i t t l e world," as Beckett c a l l s i t , i s described i n Chapter Six and i t need not concern us here except i n so f a r as i t pinpoints the central issue of both the novels and the plays, namely the c o n f l i c t between the i n d i v i d u a l and the world i n which he i s forced to l i v e , and the lack of connection between them. The climax of the novel occurs when Murphy plays a game 18 of chess with Mr. Endon (no-end). Mr. Endon cannot make the f i r s t move. I t i s simply against h i s nature to i n i t i a t e , so he quite unaffectedly assumes Black, leaving Murphy the White and the f i r s t move. This does not disturb Murphy i n the l e a s t , f o r i n h i s simple optimism he s t i l l assumes that he i s on the offensive and that there i s a d e f i n i t e , des-i r a b l e end worth pursuing, namely winning the game. Mr. Endon's "Affence" i s , as the name implies, a (unbeatable) combination of i r r a t i o n a l m o v e s — " i r r a t i o n a l " i n r e l a t i o n to "proper" r a t i o n a l l y constructed chess. In a l l p r o b a b i l i t y Mr. Endon's game has no organic connection, whatever with h i s op-ponent's—the appearance of connection i s i n f a c t coinciden-t a l , and t h i s i s Beckett's point, just as the body's "game" appears to have some tenuous connection to the mind's "game." 1 5 To be sure, no game at a l l would be possible i f the contestants did not v o l u n t a r i l y adhere to the rules, and Mr. Endon c e r t a i n l y plays within the area defined by the rules of c h e s s — i n every respect except one. He. moves his various pieces " c o r r e c t l y " and only moves when i t i s h i s turn, but the one r u l e he breaks (the only "rule" i t i s possible to break and s t i l l play, or appear to play) i s the object of the game: he does not t r y to win. This i s an important point: the insane Mr. Endon, faced with a r a t i o n a l system, i s able to play h i s own game and yet remain within the rules, and he can keep t h i s up i n d e f i n i t e l y . Mr. Endon's game i s tangental to chess, a strategy c a l -culated to preserve h i s security within h i s own world. He i s therefore primarily interested i n avoiding c o n f l i c t , and otherwise i n the shape of his moves and the formations of h i s chessmen. Thus, while Murphy fumbles with h i s attempts at a r a t i o n a l l y constructed offence, Mr. Endon retreats as com-p l e t e l y as possible back to h i s opening p o s i t i o n . When Mr. Endon makes a forward move, however, i t i s not to attack Murphy, but to set up a r t i f i c i a l , symmetrical patterns. In other words, Mr. Endon i s somehow convinced that he cannot win with the r a t i o n a l method, so he refuses to become i n -volved. Murphy's game i s a parody of chess l o g i c and from a wider perspective, of the r a t i o n a l approach to l i f e where man attr i b u t e s human r a t i o n a l i t y to the whole of existence, the macro as well as the micro, where inductive l o g i c a t t -16. ributes causes from experienced effects. However, after making a number of desperate attempts to at least engage Mr. Endon, Murphy begins to appreciate the absurdity of his 1 q efforts and "with fool's mate i n his soul he retires." 3 Murphy has learned a great lesson--the state of nirvana-like detachment inhabited by Mr. Endon to which Murphy aspires i s unattainable from his rational position. The line which ends with Winnie begins in Watt, which i s 20 roughly contemporary with Waiting for Godot. This type i s characterized by the comic attempts of reason to deal with the world, and i f there i s a quest, i t i s a search for reality, a r e a l i t y that w i l l satisfy reason. Unlike Murphy, then, Watt i s doggedly determined to deal with the world, and he has been equipped with an incredible mind. He questions and analyses everything he perceives, from the existence of his employer, Mr. Knott, to the "reality" of a past event. The co-ordination between his mind and body i s so tenuous and complex that the simple process of walking has to be analysed, made into a formula, and carried out step by step. He i s so obsessed by "whatness" that the possibility of "knotness" completely escapes him, and this might explain the fact that as he tries to reconcile external perception, memory, and reason, everything becomes meaningless to him and he i s f i n -a l l y driven insane. In the asylum Watt l i t e r a l l y turns language inside out i n his effort to find the proper express-ion for thought that w i l l match perception and give i t real-i t y . In other words, he feels the need of destroying the 17 inherent l i n e a r i t y of language i n order to express the i r -r a t i o n a l i t y of the world. Bat i n doing so h i s r a t i o n a l mind i s also destroyed, together with any p o s s i b i l i t y of commun-i c a t i o n . Watt, then, i s a character who t r i e s to discover the best means of winning the "game," and who finds that r a t i o n a l strategies only lead to increasing f r u s t r a t i o n whereas he might have been s a t i s f i e d ( l i k e Mr. Endon) with a stalemate. In very general terms, these are the character proto-types, behind the dramatis personae. Under the heading of "the s e l f i n r e t r e a t " we might place Estragon, Lucky, Hamm, Krapp, and W i l l i e ; and under the heading of the "rational mind" we could place Vladimir, Pozzo, Glov, and Winnie. As was pointed out, however, each of these types contains char-a c t e r i s t i c s of the other and therefore t h i s categorization r e f l e c t s only general tendencies. Lucky*s speech, f o r example, i s very much l i k e the demented Watt's, while i n every other respect he behaves l i k e Mr. Endon. While these two personality tendencies can be usefu l i n d i f f e r e n t i a t i n g between two characters, they are usually combined i n one character as well, with a bias toward one side or the other. 18 CHAPTER ONE—NOTES Samuel Beckett, Proust (New York: Grove, 1957), pp. 4-5. 1 • Samuel Beckett 2 I b i d . , P. 3. 3 I b i d . . P. 5. 4 I b i d . , » P. 4. 5IMd., P. 8. 6 I b i d . , PP . 47-. 7 I b i d . , P. 46. 8 I b i d . , P. 6. 9 I b i d . , P. 7. 1 0 I b i d . , P. 8. 11 Ibid. 1 2 ^Ibid., P. 40. 1 3 I b i d . , P. 41. H I b i d . , P. 56. 1 5 C o l i n Buckwortl Waiting for Godot, ed. Ruby Conn (New York: Grove, 1967), p. 16 Raymond Pederman, Journey into Ohaos: Samuel Beckett 1s  Early P i c t i o n (Berkeley: University of C a l i f o r n i a Press, 1965 see Appendix f o r summary of More Pricks than Kicks. 17 18 19 Ibid., Appendix. Samuel Beckett, Murphy (New York: Grove, 1957), p. 243. Ibid., p. 245. 2 0Samuel Beckett, Watt (New York: Grove, 1959). 1 9 CHAPTER TWO WAITING FOR GODOT For our purposes, a better t r a n s l a t i o n of the o r i g i n a l French t i t l e , En Attendant Godot, would be While Waiting f o r  Godot, f o r t h i s would place the emphasis where we want i t , that i s , on what the characters do while waiting, rather than on Godot, We are not concerned with who Godot i s nor with what h i s motivations, i f any, are. This i s not to say that Godot i s unimportant, Godot simply represents that which i s waited f o r , when waiting i t s e l f i s an ambiguous met-aphor f o r the human c o n d i t i o n — t h e dichotomy of the s e l f and the world. Godot w i l l come as surely as death, but he w i l l not come today. In t h i s sense Godot i s an absence, a void which surrounds those who wait. Waiting i s therefore the hypothetical condition on which the play rests (a non-linear equivalent of A r i s t o t l e ' s action), or to borrow a concept from Beckett's l a t e r novel, 1 Molloy, waiting i s a "hypothetical imperative" — t h e char-acters must wait. From t h i s imperative we can derive others, namely that the characters must wait together and they must wait at t h i s p a r t i c u l a r l o c a t i o n f o r a s p e c i f i c (although unknown to them) length of time. Within these imperatives the characters are "free" to do anything they l i k e , which i s to say that they are free to 20 improvise with the materials at hand by employing the fac-u l t i e s they p o s s e s s — b a s i c a l l y , speech and gesture. This means that they can speculate about t h e i r s i t u a t i o n , about the exact nature of the imperatives, and test these imper-atives by tr y i n g to disobey them; they can play with t h e i r garments (and the contents of the i r pockets); they can make use of the i r environment; they can observe and become super-f i c i a l l y involved with any passers-by; and f i n a l l y , they can "use" each other f o r conversation, argument, comfort, and games. Theoretically, i n each of these f i e l d s of possible a c t i v i t y and within the postulated imperatives, i t i s clear that whatever the characters do they are i n f a c t playing, whether they expressly r e a l i z e i t or n o t — w i t h cert a i n im-portant exceptions. The f i r s t of these exceptions includes those a c t i v i t i e s undertaken by necessity as, f o r example, when Estragon eats (although eating does pass the time), and when Vladimir i s forced to leave the stage to r e l i e v e himself (and then Estragon plays by himself). Estragon*s habitual dozing i s even l e s s an exception than eating, f o r he quite c l e a r l y uses t h i s as a strategy (unsuccessful) to avoid waiting. Another important exception occurs during those moments when a p a r t i c u l a r a c t i v i t y i n e v i t a b l y comes to an end and something new has to be i n i t i a t e d . During these b r i e f periods the characters f e e l the f u l l weight of the nothing-ness that surrounds t h e i r existence. F i n a l l y , of course, there are those actions over which the characters have no 21 control—their spontaneous reactions to external incidents— which also cannot he considered as strategic actions. In-variably, however, these spontaneous reactions do not last, for i n a state of waiting nothing can happen which could involve those who wait for very long. An example of this occurs when Estragon i s kicked by Lucky. This i s an unex-pected action and Estragon reacts accordingly with a howl of pain. His involvement i n this action, however, lasts only as long as the pain lasts, and he i s soon using Pozzo and Lucky again as a source of entertainment. While these ex-ceptions occur frequently during the course of the play, the intervening strategies take up the bulk of the play and are consequently far more important. Before we turn to the wider implications of the strat-egies of waiting and the form this waiting assumes, we should examine a strategy from each of the above possible activ i t i e s . F i r s t there are those strategies which each character can perform by himself. We f i r s t see Estragon, for example, seated alone on the stage tugging at his boot. Whether or not he i s doing this because of the pain the boot causes him, or to pass the time, or both, i s not indicated i n the text. A l l we can say for certain i s that i t takes him a long time to remove his boot and that i t does provide both of them with some diversion. Later, when Vladimir leaves the stage, Est-ragon shadow-boxes and while we might connect this with what Vladimir i s doing off-stage, a more plausible explanation 22 would be that Estragon i s im i t a t i n g the battle he goes through each night. Similarly, when Vladimir i s alone at the beginning of the second act he dashes around the stage, examining the landscape f o r changes, and then sings a song. This song i s not only an a r t i s t i c representation of the s i t -uation i n which he finds himself (which can only end i n death/tomb), but i t i s also sung with some concern f o r the qua l i t y of presentation: he sta r t s too high, clears h i s throat, and s t a r t s again. The only general conclusion we can draw from t h i s type of s o l i t a r y strategy, therefore, i s that while i t i s very l i m i t e d i n scope, i t does contain a high degree of play. In place of t r a d i t i o n a l exposition, the beginning of th i s play i s concerned with the characters 1 speculations about the nature of th e i r s i t u a t i o n and the time and place of the meeting with Godot. In other words, they pass the time discussing the nature of the hypothetical imperatives. In between the various parts of t h i s strategy, Vladimir i n -i t i a t e s and t r i e s to sustain a game of abstract speculation on hope, Christ, the two thieves, and salvation. We learn that t h i s i s a game when Vladimir says impatiently, "Come on Gogo, return the b a l l , can't you, once i n a way?" and Est-ragon r e p l i e s "(with exaggerated enthusiasm) I f i n d t h i s 2 r e a l l y most extrao r d i n a r i l y Interesting." The next basic thing they do amounts to a tes t of the imperatives—an attempt to escape waiting by s u i c i d e — a n d while i t i s clear that they are desperate, i t i s also clear 23 that t h i s i s simply another pastime. This i s proved by the f a c t that they manage to f i n d so many complications to the act that they talk themselves out of i t . Having nothing else to do a f t e r a l l t h i s , the two characters t a l k , and th e i r conversation gradually turns into a word game: Vlad: Well? What do we do? Ess Don't l e t ' s do anything. I t ' s safer. Vlad: Let's wait and see what he says. Es: Who ? Vlad: Godot. Es: Good idea. Vlad: Let's wait t i l l we know exactly how we stand. Es: On the other hand i t might be better to s t r i k e the i r o n before i t freezes. Vlad: I'm curious to hear what he has to o f f e r . Then we'll take i t or leave i t . Es: What exactly did we ask him f o r ? Vlad: Were you not there? Es; I can't have been l i s t e n i n g . Vlad: Oh...Nothing very d e f i n i t e . Es: A kind of prayer. Vlad: Precisely. Es: A vague supplication. Vlad: Exactly. Es: And what did he reply? Vlad: That he'd see. Es: That he couldn't promise anything. Vlad: That he'd have to think i t over. Es: In the quiet of h i s home. Vlad: Consult h i s family. Es: His fri e n d s . Vlad: His agents. Es: His correspondents. Vlad: His books. Es: His bank account. Vlad: Before taking a decision. Es: I t ' s the normal thing. Vlad: Is i t not? Es: I think i t i s . Vlad: I think so too. (Silence.) Es: And we? Vlad: I beg your pardon? Es: I said, and we? Vlad: I don't understand. Es: Where do we come i n ? Vlad: Come in? Es: Take your time. 24. Vlad: Come in? On our hands and knees. Es: As bad as that? Vlad: Your Worship wishes to assert h i s prerogatives? Es: We've no r i g h t s any more? (Laugh of Vladimir....) Vlad: You'd make me laugh, i f i t wasn't prohibited. Es: We've l o s t our r i g h t s ? Vlad: ( D i s t i n c t l y ) We got r i d of them. (Silence. They remain motionless, arms dangling, heads sunk, sagging at the knees.) This conversation begins to turn into a game when Estragon answers h i s own question—"A kind of prayer"—and then repeat the same thing i n d i f f e r e n t words—"A vague supplication." The second stage of the game begins when Vladimir gets the idea and joins i n — " T h a t he'd have to think i t over"—thus becoming a partner. Prom t h i s point on, the game becomes a matter of word and idea association u n t i l Vladimir ends i t with "before taking a decision." A f t e r t h i s , the game begins to die out even though Estragon t r i e s to st a r t i t again. The content of t h i s game expresses the characters' f e e l i n g that Godot and everyone else also play the same kind of game— "It's the normal thing." That i s , Godot postpones h i s dec-i s i o n with many consultations. Afte r t h i s game, Estragon t r i e s a desperate ploy by saying that he i s hungry, and o f f they go on an elaborate routine which ends with Estragon eating a withered carrot. At t h i s point games and i n s p i r a t i o n peter out, but they are saved by the a r r i v a l of Pozzo and Lucky. After they recover from t h e i r i n i t i a l shock at (and spontaneous reactions to) the a r r i v a l of t h i s strange pair, 25 Vladimir and Estragon begin to examine Lucky as an o b j e c t — they walk around him and comment on h i s sores, face, and eyes — a n d soon they f i n d themselves acting as spectators while Pozzo performs. In ef f e c t , then, the Pozzo/Lucky episode i s a play within a play, and Vladimir and Estragon are as much responsible f o r t h i s as Pozzo, f o r they encourage him and are eager to have Lucky perform. This episode i s not only a strategy f o r Vladimir and Estragon, i t i s also a confron-ta t i o n between those who wait and the outside world, i n other words, the play within a play provides us with a fresh perspective on waiting. We are able to view these outsiders and t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p through the eyes of Vladimir and Est-ragon, and we see a pompous egotist who l i k e s an audience, who governs h i s actions according to clock time, and who treats h i s companion as an animal. In t h i s h a l f of the play, the characters have more or le s s exhausted the p o s s i b i l i t i e s open to them—they have discussed t h e i r s i t u a t i o n and have tested the rules, they have conversed, argued, and played games with each other, they have examined the landscape and have used food and clothing to pass the time, and f i n a l l y , they have "used" passers-by as a diversion. In a l l of t h i s one f a c t i s clearJ these characters are amazingly v e r s a t i l e with very l i t t l e material a i d — t h e y have succeeded i n passing the time with a minimum amount of pain and boredom. In addition, and t h i s i s the most important aspect of the i r a c t i v i t i e s , each thing they do (aside from the previously noted exceptions) conforms to 26 the general c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of play. Each a c t i v i t y i s r e -s t r i c t e d i n space and time (each i s l i m i t e d to the stage and comes to an end as soon as one of the "players'* runs out of improvisations), and each i s v o l u n t a r i l y undertaken, since no physical or moral compulsions force the characters to perform these s p e c i f i c a c t i v i t i e s . Each a c t i v i t y sets up a world of i t s own, with i t s own r u l e s : the rules of improv-i s a t i o n which are impossible to codify, but which are present nevertheless. F i n a l l y , each a c t i v i t y has an order of i t s own, as the word games, fo r example, have a kind of a r t i s t i c order: the one quoted above st a r t s with a set of questions and answers, gradually switches to variations on a theme, and ends with questions and answers, the whole forming a dramatic poem. In addition to the p l a y - l i k e quality of each a c t i v i t y , however, there i s the qu a l i t y of the whole to con-sider, i n which the separate a c t i v i t e s become i n d i v i d u a l strategies i n a much wider context. Perhaps we can begin to examine the form the waiting assumes and the tension which accompanies i t by taking a look at what happens i n the play i n the simplest terms poss-i b l e . On a country road i n the evening, a man s i t s tugging at h i s boot. Another man appears and the two talk , argue, attempt suicide, t r y to leave, and generally pass the time as well as they can. This goes on f o r approximately a h a l f hour u n t i l two more men appear. One of these men talks to and t r i e s to entertain the o r i g i n a l pair (who encourage him), while the other i s ordered to dance and think. Afte r these 27 men leave, the sun sets and the moon r i s e s , and the o r i g i n a l p a i r t a l k f o r a short time u n t i l a small hoy appears to say that Mr. Godot w i l l not he coming t o n i g h t , but s u r e l y t o -morrow. The two men speak again of s u i c i d e , decide to leave but do not move, and the c u r t a i n f a l l s . The above i s r e -peated i n the same order i n the second a c t , which i s the next evening. This i s the bare s t r u c t u r e of the w a i t i n g i n terms of events, and by i t s e l f i t i s enough to t e l l us that f o r those on stage one day i s . e s s e n t i a l l y the same as the next—tomorrow w i l l be the same as today which i s the same as y e s t e r d a y — a n d f o r some reason, as t h e i r a b o r t i v e attempts at l e a v i n g and s u i c i d e i n d i c a t e , i t appears t h a t t h i s p a t t e r n cannot be broken. Since the events are i d e n t i c a l from one act to the next, the characters seem to be caught i n an e t e r n a l evening, that i s , a stalemate by perpetual check. We i n the audience begin to r e a l i z e t h i s a t the same time as (or j u s t before) those on stage. At the beginning, we, along w i t h them, expect the a r r i v a l of Godot. We are disappointed at the end of the f i r s t a c t , but more or l e s s t r u s t the boy's message. At the end of the second a c t , we no longer t r u s t the boy but we r e a l i z e that nothing can be done about i t . This gives us a cl u e to the b a s i c cause of the dramatic t e n s i o n we f e e l i n watching the p l a y : although they cannot bear to w a i t , they must. They can no more stop w a i t i n g than as a c t o r s they can leave the stage or as humans they can cease to e x i s t . And as a c t o r s they r e a l i z e that when the c u r t a i n r i s e s again they must reappear on stage and 28 go through the same tedious process. Just as we must assume that the center of a c i r c l e exists, they must assume that Godot exists s since they are waiting, they must he waiting f o r something, and that something i s personified by the name "Godot." While they begin to f e e l that the day-to-day pat-tern cannot be broken, they assume or hope that Godot can break i t , but he i s always one day away from doing so. I f we examine the "events" of the play a l i t t l e more close l y we can see that while they occur i n the same order, t h e i r proportions are s i g n i f i c a n t l y d i f f e r e n t , and t h i s d i f f -erence p a r a l l e l s a r i s e i n tension. In the f i r s t place, the second act i s shorter by approximately twenty minutes ( i f we reckon the time of the play o b j e c t i v e l y ) , making everything more compact; conversely, from within the play the r e p e t i t i o n has the e f f e c t of making the evening appear much longer and l e s s bearable, at l e a s t to the extent that the characters are aware (or suspect) that they are caught i n a r e p e t i t i v e cycle/. lEhus there i s an increase i n tension (which i s com-municated to the audience) i n inverse proportion to the length of the play. In addition, the events of the stage evening take up f a r l e s s time i n the second act, leaving the two main characters alone with nothing to do f o r a longer p e r i o d — i n t h e . f i r s t act the Pozzo/Lucky episode, f o r example, l a s t s f o r over two-thirds of the t o t a l time, while i n the second act i t l a s t s f o r l e s s than one-third of the t o t a l time. 3!hus, as f a r as the audience i s concerned, the second act r i s e s to a series of climaxes of tension i n d i r e c t re-29 l a t i o n to the characters' desperate attempts to f i n d new strategies as the old ones break down. These elements of structure, i n c i d e n t a l l y , also underline a contrast i n time scales between those who are waiting and those who try to l i v e by clock time, or between those who are suspended i n the present and those who are oriented toward the future. However, t h i s i s a subject which must be l e f t f o r l a t e r . What we are concerned with at t h i s point i s that the events of the play are beyond the control of the main characters and are consequently non-strategic. They can only be turned into strategies by the main characters a f t e r the i n i t i a l shock and involvement has worn o f f , as i s the case with the Pozzo/Lucky scene. Perhaps more s i g n i f i c a n t than the bare fa c t of the ex-ternal events of the play i s the complex pattern underlying these events, forming the d e t a i l of the play's structure. A s u p e r f i c i a l glance shows that Beckett makes extensive use of pauses and silences to control the quality of the play's rhythm and pace. While there i s c e r t a i n l y no simple r u l e gov-erning the use of pauses and silences, a s i g n i f i c a n t pattern can be discerned i f they are r e l a t e d to the basic events and the d i a l o g u e — e s p e c i a l l y when the two acts are compared. F i r s t , there i s a general tendency f o r the pauses to be i n t r a l i n e a r whereas the silences usually occur at the ends of short speeches, or to put i t another way, the pauses have the e f f e c t of commas and the silences the e f f e c t of p e r i o d s — r e s u l t i n g i n an o v e r a l l s t r u c t u r a l punctuation. While the 3 0 . pauses general ly give emphasis to the preceding phrase or i n d i c a t e uncertainty i n the speaker, the s i l e n c e s (besides g i v i n g even greater emphasis) i n d i c a t e that a speech or thought (strategy) has been abor t ive , that the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the preceding idea has struck home, ending the strategy on a sour note, or that the point lessness of the game has suddenly engulfed the players i n a wave of despair . Con-sequently, the pauses can make the rhythm of the l i n e s spas-modic and p a i n f u l and the pace slow, but the s i lences can, besides breaking the speeches and ideas in to l a r g e r and more d e f i n i t e groups, heighten the hopelessness and despair of wait ing (for i t i s when there i s s i l e n c e that the f a c t of wait ing and the need f o r f u r t h e r s t ra tegies are emphasized) and at the same time increase the dramatic tension . The f o l l o w i n g i l l u s t r a t i o n i s one of the best examples i n the play of Beckett 's dramatic use of the s i l e n c e as i t i n d i c a t e s simultaneously the e f f o r t to pass the time, the characters* growing desperation as they begin to run out of things to say, and the tendency f o r such e f f o r t s to become r i t u a l - l i k e i n form. E s : In the meantime l e t us t r y and converse calmly, since we are incapable of keeping s i l e n t . V l a d : You're r i g h t , we're i n e x h a u s t i b l e . E s : I t ' s so we won't t h i n k . V l a d : We have that excuse. E s : I t ' s so we won't hear . V l a d : We have our reasons. E s : A l l the dead v o i c e s . V l a d : They make a noise l i k e wings. E s : L ike leaves . V l a d : Like sand. E s : L i k e leaves . 31. (Silence.) Vlad: They a l l speak at once. Es: Each one to i t s e l f . (Silence.) Vlad: Eather they whisper. Es: They r u s t l e . Vlad: They murmur. Es: They r u s t l e . (Silence.) Vlad: What do they say? Es: They talk about t h e i r l i v e s . Vlad: To have l i v e d i s not enough f o r them. Es: They have to talk about i t . Vlad: To be dead i s not enough f o r them. Es: I t i s not s u f f i c i e n t . (Silence.) Vlad: They make a noise l i k e feathers. Es: Like leaves. Vlad: Like ashes. Es: Like leaves. (Long silence.) Vlad: Say something! Es: I'm try i n g . (Long silence.) Vlad: ( i n anguish) Say anything at a l l l Es: What do we do now? Vlad: Wait f o r Godot. Es: Ah I (Silence.) Vlad: This i s awful! 32 In t h i s passage (and the one immediately following i t ) the whole play i s present i n m i n i a t u r e — a perfect imitation of the action and at the same time an excellent example of a thoroughly improvised and conscious strategy. I t should f i r s t be noted that i n t h i s type of strategy the beginning, as Vladimir says, i s the most d i f f i c u l t part, f o r from there on i t i s a matter of word and image a s s o c i a t i o n — t h e object being, of course, to keep the b a l l r o l l i n g as long as poss-i b l e . However, t h i s i s extremely d i f f i c u l t to do because either character i s l i k e l y to run out of words—in t h i s case i t i s Estragon, and Vladimir has to r e - s t a r t the r a l l y each time. This strategy breaks down rather quickly as a r e s u l t of t h i s lack of v e r s a t i l i t y on Estragon's part since they are soon l e d back to the beginning—"Lake leaves"—which i s a dead end. In other words, a strategy which imitates the r e p e t i t i v e s i t u a t i o n i n which they are caught i s not a good or successful strategy. Immediately a f t e r the above passage, however, they have another " l i t t l e canter," but t h i s time i t i s Estragon who manages to keep i t going by taking advantage of new oppor-t u n i t i e s as they a r i s e (e.g. "that's r i g h t , l e t ' s contradict each other")^ and by asking questions. The main difference between t h i s game and the previous one, therefore, i s that t h i s one has a l i n e a r s t r u c t u r e — i t goes from one point to another, with new ones being added—whereas the previous one was both r e p e t i t i v e and c i r c u l a r . But even t h i s game has to come to an end sooner or l a t e r — t h e expression "que voulez-33 vous" sums up t h e i r f e e l i n g s with f i n a l i t y — a n d they are l e f t with the need to s t a r t something else. Tiie f i r s t aet of Waiting f o r Godot has approximately seventy pauses and t h i r t y silences, while the second act has the reverse with approximately t h i r t y - f i v e pauses and sixty silences. Consequently, the marked increase i n tension and despair i n the second act indicated by the basic design i s both supported and f i l l e d out by the underlying st r u c t u r a l punctuation. The only other f a c t that we can learn from t h i s d e t a i l i t s e l f , however, i s that the pauses and silences tend to be grouped, with a somewhat heavier concentration toward the end of each a c t — t h e groups i n d i c a t i n g peaks of tension around those points where time weighs most heavily on the main characters. These points occur when Vladimir and Es-tragon f i n d i t d i f f i c u l t to keep the conversation going, when the strategies employed to pass the time break down. One of the most obvious of these ("besides the one just quoted) occurs immediately before the entrance of Pozzo and Lucky i n the second act. The tension, emphasized by the number of pauses and silences, has been steadily increasing: Estragon, becoming increasingly desperate, has t r i e d to leave four times i n as many minutes, and Vladimir has anxiously been tr y i n g to v e r i f y t h e i r l o c a t i o n i n space and time on one hand and invent strategies to take h i s mind o f f h i s doubt on the other. They f i n a l l y turn t h e i r mutual h o s t i l i t y into a desperate strategy—name c a l l i n g — w h i c h proves somewhat 34. successful: "How time f l i e s when one has f u n l " ' However, the tension i s soon back again, and the entrance of Pozzo and Lucky serves as an extremely welcome diversion. This time i t i s Vladimir who i s able to make the most "use" of Pozzo and Lucky, while Estragon soon becomes bored with them, whereas i n the f i r s t act i t was Estragon who had an u l t e r i o r motive (charity from Pozzo) and Vladimir who became bored with Pozzo's pompous speeches. This time the shoe i s on the other foot as Vladimir plays the r o l e of the Good Samaritan with pomposity. In other words, Vladimir i s becoming more adept at improvising on any s i t u a t i o n and turning i t into a strategy, a strategy moreover, which i s completely a r t i f i c i a l . Interwoven among the pauses and silences and major events i n the play are certain important thematic elements which Beckett has also used s t r u c t u r a l l y . These themes are orchestrated contrapuntally as l e i t m o t i f s and sub-themes, and they impart an accumulation of meaning to the content of the play and, i n addition, act as i n d i c a t o r s of the characters' despair and the ultimate stalemate of t h e i r strategies. Since the importance of the accumulative e f f e c t of r e p e t i t i o n i s greater than the e f f e c t of a single part or even the sum of the parts, the i n e v i t a b i l i t y of the f i n a l stalemate i s underlined by these i n t e r r e l a t e d l e i t m o t i f s . The "action" of the play, which i s i n a c t i o n or waiting (not to be confused with the action of the characters, which i s , as f a r as Vlad-imir and Estragon are concerned, to pass the time, and, as f a r as Pozzo i s concerned, to keep up to time), i s reinforced 35 by the p r i n c i p a l l e i t m o t i f : Es: Let's go. Vlad: We can't. Es: Why not? Vlad: We're waiting f o r Godot. Es: Ahl g (Silence.) This r e f r a i n (also a r e i t e r a t i o n of the basic imperative) i s used eight times i n a l l , twice i n the f i r s t act (at the be-ginning when a l l themes are introduced, and at the end when they are a l l recapitulated) and s i x times i n the second. By the end of the play the r e f r a i n has become so f a m i l i a r and so deadly that the l a s t two times i t occurs i t i s s i g n i f i c a n t l y shortened by Estragon, who u n t i l now had to be reminded: "Let's go. We can't. Ahl (Pause.)" 9 There are two sides to t h i s r e f r a i n , waiting and i t s a n t i t h e s i s leaving, and consequently i t underlines the p r i n -c i p a l thematic c o n f l i c t i n the play. In addition, the two sides of the r e f r a i n are constantly reinforced throughout the play with variations on each theme—the idea of waiting being mentioned eight times i n each act and the counter-idea of leaving twelve times i n each act. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to note that the optimist, Vladimir, usually has the l i n e s r e-f e r r i n g to waiting, while Estragon, n a t u r a l l y enough, usually has those r e f e r r i n g to leaving, so that when t h i s tendency i s broken, the point becomes especially s i g n i f i c a n t . Vlad-imir, f o r example, says "I'm going" f o r the f i r s t time i n the Pozzo/Lucky scene of the f i r s t act when the ramblings of Pozzo (which bear no r e l a t i o n whatever to Vladimir's s i t -36 uation) become extremely tedious. On the other hand, Es-tragon, who normally would have jumped at the idea, says, 1 0 "so soon?" — h e i s quite eontent to stay because he f e e l s ,i;here i s a p o s s i b i l i t y of further charity from Pozzo. I t goes without saying that each time the phrase "Let's go" or "I'm leaving" i s spoken, nothing happens—there i s the un-spoken knowledge that they cannot leave. When they f i n a l l y get together at the end of each act and agree to go, but do not move, the action of the play i s summed up with f i n a l i t y , and the f i r s t l i n e of the play (another l e i t m o t i f ) i s re-11 c a l l e d : "Nothing to be done." In addition to the above mentioned major themes (waiting and leaving), there are several sub-themes which are used as l e i t m o t i f s to give added dimension to the action and meaning of the play. The f i r s t of these, "Nothing to be done," i s used f i v e times i n the f i r s t act and then dropped, to be r e -placed i n the second act by the more desperate "What'll we 12 do?" and they both r e l a t e not only to t h e i r s i t u a t i o n i n the game against time, but also to the value of the strategies. The f i r s t of these sub-themes has a more subtle irony, as i t i s used i n reference to something s p e c i f i c , such as Estragon's boot or Vladimir's hat, with only an i n d i r e c t reference to th e i r general s i t u a t i o n . Vladimir comments on thi s pessim-i s t i c conclusion of Estragon's by i n d i c a t i n g that h i s own posi t i o n i s a l i t t l e more optimistic, although changing: "I'm beginning to eome around to that opinion. A l l my l i f e I've t r i e d to put i t from me, saying, Vladimir, be reason-37. able, you haven't t r i e d everything yet. And I resumed the T3 struggle." A short time l a t e r he uses the same phrase i n exactly the same way as Estragon ( i n reference to h i s hat and h i s i n a b i l i t y to laugh), that i s , i n resignation. And yet, f o r some time he continues to c l i n g to the hope that Godot w i l l come. A l l of these l e i t m o t i f s are therefore an i n d i c a t i o n of the breakdown or end of p a r t i c u l a r strategies, and as such they indicate both the depths of despair f e l t by the characters and the height of tension created by the r e -s u l t i n g vacuum. Consequently, i f we consider these l e i t m o t i f s together with the s t r u c t u r a l punctuation on the one hand and the interwoven strategies on the other, the basic rhythmical pattern of the play i s revealed, i n addition to the a l t e r -nation of comic action with t r a g i c silence. Beyond the s p e c i f i c meaning of each l e i t m o t i f and i t s use as a s t r u c t u r a l device, i s the o v e r a l l importance of the idea of r e p e t i t i o n i t s e l f . As these interwoven themes are repeated verbatim (with, on the stage, correspondingly i d e n t i c a l movement, expression, and attitude) and i n con-junction with the r e p e t i t i o n of the major events of each act and the game-like quality of the intervening dialogue, the play i n e v i t a b l y becomes r i t u a l i z e d , emphasizing not only the f a c t that the pattern established by the end of the play could go on forever ( i t has become r i g i d i f i e d ) , but also the impression that the characters on stage are analogous to performers who have gone through the same motions many times and w i l l continue to do so as long;: as the "run" l a s t s . 3 8 A further important consequence of the use of r e p e t i t i o n as a s t r u c t u r a l p r i n c i p l e i s that i t r e f l e c t s Beckett's a t t -itude toward the value and meaning of human action ( i n our context, the strategies of waiting). In the context of an eternally repeating pattern, the actions of a f i n i t e being have no e f f e c t i v e meaning, they are reduced to marking time or waiting. I f man's actions appear r i d i c u l o u s , however, the f a u l t does not necessarily l i e i n an absurd u n i v e r s e — the f a u l t i s at l e a s t p a r t i a l l y man's: the r a t i o n a l creature 1 A "looking f o r sense where possibly there i s none" i s at le a s t p a r t l y to blame i f h i s looking i s i n vain. He should not, as Vladimir says, "blame the f a u l t s of h i s feet on h i s b o o t s . " 1 5 The many commentators on Beckett's work have had much to say about the relationships between the various pairs of characters, ranging from the claim that they represent the 1 6 perceiver and the perceived (Esslin) to the claim that they 1 7 represent the dualism of the body and mind (Conn). ' Un-doubtedly each of these interpretations helps us to under-stand something of the nature of the relationships, but th e i r weakness l i e s i n the i r narrow-mindedness—they ignore the essential ambiguity which l i e s at the heart of any aspect of Beckett's work. Aside from the relevance of Belaqua, Murphy, and Watt as prototypes, the f i r s t s i g n i f i c a n t relationship i n Beckett's work i s that of Mercier and Gamier, who can be 1 8 considered the prototypal "pair." Mercier and Camier are 39 a homosexual couple, one exhibiting, i n very general terms, male c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , and the other, female: one i s more agressive, i n t e l l e c t u a l , and protective; the other i s em-oti o n a l , submissive, and introverted. When they acquire a bicycle (which they plan to use i n th e i r escape from the c i t y ) , one takes the handlebars and the other hangs on to the seat. S i m i l a r l y i n Waiting f o r Godot, a l i s t of i n d i v -i d u a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s f o r Vladimir and Estragon could be made (see Appendix), but perhaps more important than t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t i e s i s the significance Beckett attaches to the re l a t i o n s h i p as such and s p e c i f i c a l l y i t s usefulness i n the strategies of waiting. In Proust we saw that friendship, according to Beckett, i s a form of s e l f - f e a r , and that while the presence of an-other person helps to a l l a y t h i s fear, no r e a l communication i s possible between one person and another because the r e l a t -ionship operates on a subject-object basis. In other words, each person i s an object to the other and can be useful only i f he i s w i l l i n g or i f he i s being coerced. This p r i n c i p l e seems to be i l l u s t r a t e d by Vladimir and Estragon. They need each other to help pass the time and to keep t h e i r minds o f f the i r s i t u a t i o n . The many verbal strategies they employ (usually i n i t i a t e d by Vladimir) would not be possible without co-operation and w i l l only l a s t or be successful as long as there i s co-operation—someone has to return the b a l l . Es-tragon generally co-operates i n the partnership because, as he says, "we're incapable of keeping s i l e n t ... i t ' s so we 40 won't think." y Bat when he t r i e s to sleep, Vladimir invar-i a b l y wakes him up because he i s lonely. They even play at the f a c t that they get on each other's nerves, by pretending to sulk i n an imitation of a lovers' spat and then making up. F i n a l l y , t h e i r s i t u a t i o n i s so unreal to them and t h e i r a l i e n -ation from the world of motion or time so f r u s t r a t i n g that they need each other to prove to themselves that they e x i s t : "We don't manage too badly, eh Di d i , between the two of us? ... We always f i n d something, eh D i d i , to give us the im-20 pression that we exi s t ? " On the other hand, t h e i r strategies always have a l i m i t e d success because more often than not one character w i l l refuse to co-operate: Vladimir w i l l not l i s t e n to Es-tragon' s dreams and Estragon w i l l not play "Pozzo and lucky," although i t i s usually Estragon who wants to be l e f t alone and who says, "I'm leaving," or, "Wouldn't i t be better i f we 21 parted?" but who s i g n i f i c a n t l y never does actually l e a v e — he needs Vladimir f o r some vague kind of protection and com-f o r t and f o r t h i s reason he usually consents to Vladimir's demands. As a pair, Vladimir and Estragon i l l u s t r a t e what Hoffman 22 has c a l l e d the "marginal s e l f , " e specially i f we can see a continuity from Mercier and Camier, who want to leave the c i t y , to Vladimir and Estragon, who are (now) i n the country. Hoffman has postulated three major metaphors fo r the marginal s e l f i n modern Western l i t e r a t u r e s the Christ figure or scapegoat (to whom Estragon compares himself), the under-41. ground man (which would apply to Hamm and Krapp), and the clown (poet, a r t i s t , acrobat, j u g g l e r ) . 2 ^ The marginal f i g -ure exists on the periphery of society, time, space, and " r e a l i t y " and t h i s i s ce r t a i n l y true of Beckett's characters. In addition, however, i t i s the marginal existence represented "by the stage which applies most appropriately to Beckett's plays. Here the characters exist as clowns, condemned to r e p e t i t i o n and imit a t i o n of l i f e . As clowns they not only "act out" existence, they also suffer the fr u s t r a t i o n s of defective creatures who are not equipped to imitate existence expertly and consequently t h e i r strategies appear to he clownish. I f we can define the p r a t f a l l as any collapse of pretension, such as that which happens when Estragon intends to imitate Lucky's dance and f a l l s , we f i n d that each time the characters t r y to act l i k e r a t i o n a l ckea*uieB t h e i r pre-tensions collapse i n absurdity. As r a t i o n a l men, f o r example, they discuss the pros and cons of helping Pozzo and they f a l l down; they discuss the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of suicide and Estragon's pants f a l l down, or the rope breaks and they both f a l l ; and f i n a l l y , t h e i r pretensions to r a t i o n a l sentiment also c o l -lapse as when Estragon t r i e s to comfort Lucky and gets kicked, ending t h i s strategy with a cry of pain. OA As Ruby Cohn has noted, the personal c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of Vladimir and Estragon, while f a i r l y d i s t i n c t i n the f i r s t act, become blurred i n the second. The reason f o r t h i s , I believe, i s that Vladimir gradually loses h i s optimistic ex-pectations (the only progress as f a r as these characters are 42. concerned) , and thus comes c l o s e r to Es t ragon*s o u t l o o k on t h e i r s i t u a t i o n and h i s r e a c t i o n s to i t . While t h i s progress i s s l i g h t , there are i n d i c a t i o n s t h a t i t i s t a k i n g p l a c e . Por example, i n the f i r s t ac t when the boy a r r i v e s , Es tragon s a y s , " O f f we go a g a i n , " i n d i c a t i n g h i s awareness of the r e p -e t i t i o n , and he i s q u i t e h a r s h w i t h the boy; i n the second a c t , however, i t i s V l a d i m i r who s a y s , "Of f we go a g a i n , " and i t i s he who i s h a r s h w i t h the boy ( E s t r a g o n , who has r e t r e a t e d even f a r t h e r , i s a s l e e p ) . I n a d d i t i o n , V l a d i m i r can now a n t i c i p a t e the boy*s messages Vlads You have a message from M r . Godot. Boys Yes s i r . V l a d : He won ' t come t h i s evening . Boys No s i r . V l a d : But h e ' l l - c o m e tomorrow. Boy: Yes s i r . ^ V l a d i m i r does not go so f a r as to admit to h i m s e l f the c e r - t a i n t y t h a t the next day w i l l be the same as the present one (an i m p o s s i b l e p r e d i c t i o n i n any c a s e ) , but whereas i n the f i r s t a c t he s p e c u l a t e d on the t h i e f who was saved and on the i d e a o f hope, he has now become r e l a t i v e l y p e s s i m i s t i c , and concludes t h a t " h a b i t tthe h a b i t of coming and w a i t i n g each dayj i s a grea t deadener. When we t u r n to Pozzo and L u c k y , who are on a d i f f e r e n t t ime plane and who are t h e r e f o r e c h a r a c t e r i z e d by mot ion and change r a t h e r than i m m o b i l i t y , we f i n d t h a t t h e i r p e r s o n a l d i f f e r e n c e s , w h i l e s i m i l a r , are even more s t r i k i n g . Pozzo has t i e d h i m s e l f (as V l a d i m i r and Estragon are " t i e d " to Godot) to a busy schedule and an o b j e c t i v e l y r e g u l a t e d t i m e , 43. even i f that time from our point of view i s unbelievably-f a s t (his watch records the y e a r s — a n i n d i c a t i o n of how f a s t time goes f o r him). His regulated sense of purpose helps him avoid the stagnation of s e l f experienced by Vladimir and Estragon, as does h i s sense of the motion of time which i s guaranteed by h i s watch, and he uses Lucky as a manifestation of h i s purpose and as a guarantee of h i s objective existence. Lucky, on the other hand, appears to be a completely w i l l -l e s s creature who submits without protest to Pozzo*s domin-ation. He has retreated into an animal-like existence, per-forming h i s duties mechanically as i f he were scarcely aware that he did them, and h i s r a t i o n a l process has disintegrated into a jumble of fragments so devoid of coherence that when he speaks h i s words become mere incantation. S i m i l a r l y , h i s w i l l to i n i t i a t e or end anything has, l i k e Mr. Endows, com-pl e t e l y disappeared—he has to be ordered to begin anything and forced to stop. Por these reasons he i s "Lucky." As f a r as Waiting f o r Godot i s concerned, then, t h i s i s the basic operative p r i n c i p l e underlying human relationships and i t r e f l e c t s the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the subject-object dichotomy explained i n Proust. I f we can accept the apparent f a c t that Vladimir and Estragon are inseparable, we must conclude that while they are usually successful i n passing the time together, most of that time they get on each other's nerves—Vladimir wants to talk about t h e i r s i t u a t i o n and Es-tragon wants to be l e f t alone: "Don't touch me! Don't question me! Don't speak to me! Stay with mel"^' But 44 Vladimir must talk and Estragon must complain, and M s com-p l a i n t s invariably bother Vladimir* "Will you stop whining! I've had about my b e l l y f u l of your lamentations I "28 Ulhis continues u n t i l they become desperate and agree to "talk calmly," which means to play a game of some kind. But these games do not l a s t long despite th e i r attempts to prolong them. Because they have c o n f l i c t i n g desires and needs as subjective p e r s o n a l i t i e s , and because they can only view each other as objects, communication between them must be both a r t i f i c i a l and unstable. Each character i s not w i l l i n g to be treated as an object by the other, and since t h i s i s the only type of r e l a t i o n s h i p possible, the r e s u l t i s a fundamen-t a l antagonism which i s kept at a minimum only by t h e i r common objective (which i s compulsory)—they have to wait for Godot. With Pozzo and Lucky, however, the s i t u a t i o n i s d i f f -erent, although the r e s u l t s are the same. Lucky i s more or l e s s w i l l i n g to be treated exclusively as an object because as an object h i s existence i n the world i s simple, regulated, and protected by Pozzo, while Pozzo i s w i l l i n g to provide t h i s type of existence for Lucky i n return f o r Lucky's ob-edience—a perfect sado-masochistic r e l a t i o n s h i p . However, while Pozzo i s able to maintain the semblance of an active l i f e with Lucky's help, the deterioration of h i s physical being makes t h i s i n c r e d i b l y d i f f i c u l t , and just as Vladimir and Estragon can never a t t a i n t h e i r objective (Godot), Pozzo 45. can never complete M s schedule. From t h i s point of view, therefore, the strategies the characters adopt must end i n a stalemate, but i s thi s necess-a r i l y a f a i l u r e ? This depends upon t h e i r r e a l objective. I f Vladimir and Estragon want and expect to meet Godot (that i s , harmonize t h e i r subjective selves with objective r e a l i t y ) they w i l l obviously f a i l ; but i f , rather than t r y i n g to es-cape from t h e i r s i t u a t i o n , a l l they want and expect to do i s to forget the f a c t that they must wait for Godot, they w i l l probably succeed, although not without a great deal of anguish. Since there i s no i n d i c a t i o n that they w i l l succeed i n committing suicide, or that they w i l l leave the stage ahead of time, or f a i l to turn up the next day, and since there i s every i n d i c a t i o n that Godot w i l l always be one day away from them, we must conclude that they w i l l succeed i n waiting for h i m — u n t i l they are struck down by some i r r a t -i o n a l f a c t o r , which, i n the game of l i v i n g , i s death. This also applies to Pozzo, whose objective i s r e a l l y not to reach the "board" but to keep moving. This he w i l l continue to do as long as he i s ph y s i c a l l y able, and consequently, we can expect to see him pass by every day that Vladimir and Estragon wait f o r Godot. The r e l a t i o n s h i p between the two pai r s of characters i s also of some sig n i f i c a n c e . In a sense, Pozzo and Lucky cor-respond (in an exaggerated and speeded up way) to Vladimir and Estragon. That i s , Vladimir exhibits some of the char-46 a c t e r i s t i c s o f P o z z o , and E s t r a g o n some o f t h o s e o f L u c k y (see A p p e n d i x ) . H o w e v e r , because o f t h e " t i m e d i f f e r e n t i a l " ( P o z z o i s o r i e n t e d t o w a r d t h e f u t u r e a n d t h e t ramps a r e c a u g h t i n t h e p r e s e n t ) , t h e r e i s a g r e a t d e a l o f c o n f u s i o n a n d l a c k o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n be tween t h e p a i r s . I n o r d e r to a t t r a c t P o z z o ' s a t t e n t i o n , f o r e x a m p l e , V l a d i m i r h a s t o 29 s p e e d u p h i s s p e e c h : "Do y o u want t o g e t r i d o f h i m ? " i s r e p e a t e d f o u r t i m e s w i t h o u t m a k i n g a n i m p r e s s i o n on P o z z o , b u t when V l a d i m i r s a y s , " Y o u w a a g e r r i m ? , M P o z z o t a k e s n o t i c e . E a c h p a i r h a s an u n s e t t l i n g e f f e c t on t h e o t h e r : P o z z o h a s d i f f i c u l t y l e a v i n g a f t e r h i s momentary s t a t e o f r e s t and c l a i m s t h a t he h a s n e e d o f a " r u n n i n g s t a r t ; " ^ a t t h e same t i m e t h e p r e s e n c e o f P o z z o p l a c e s V l a d i m i r i n t h e p o s i t i o n o f l i s t e n e r o r a u d i e n c e , a p o s i t i o n t o w h i c h he i s n o t a c c u s -tomed, a n d h i s a w a r e n e s s o f t h e s u s p e n s i o n o f t i m e i s c o r -r e s p o n d i n g l y i n c r e a s e d : " W i l l n i g h t n e v e r come? . . . Time h a s s t o p p e d . 1 , 3 2 (On t h e o t h e r h a n d , t h i s new a w a r e n e s s a l s o g i v e s h i m some i n s i g h t i n t o t h e r e l a t i v i t y o f h i s own s i t -u a t i o n , a s we s h a l l s e e . ) I n a d d i t i o n , E s t r a g o n and L u c k y abuse each o t h e r p h y s i c a l l y , w i t h E s t r a g o n r e c e i v i n g most o f t h e p u n i s h m e n t . I n s h o r t , we m i g h t c o n c l u d e t h a t w h i l e t h e P o z z o / L u c k y scene b e g i n s as a "welcome d i v e r s i o n " ( i n each a c t ) , i t ends b o t h t i m e s w i t h a c e r t a i n amount o f p a i n f o r b o t h p a i r s . T h i s i s t r u e i n s p i t e o f t h e f a c t t h a t each t i m e P o z z o and L u c k y l e a v e V l a d i m i r s a y s , " T h a t p a s s e d t h e t i m e , " i n d i c a t i n g t h a t t h e c o n f r o n t a t i o n h a d s e r v e d as a s t r a t e g y . But t h e 47 point i s that Vladimir can only say t h i s a f t e r the other two have l e f t — w h i l e they were present the s i t u a t i o n became more and more boring, making i t necessary to devise new strategies. Since we i n the audience i d e n t i f y with Vladimir and Es-tragon, these confrontation scenes provide us with an import-ant degree of perspective. That i s , we are able to gain a subjective impression of other people and objects (Pozzo, Lucky, and the tree through the eyes of Vladimir and Estragon): we see the others age and the tree grow leaves while Vladimir and Estragon do not change. At the same time, through aesthetic distance, we view Vladimir and Estragon objectively enough fo r t h i s phenomenon to s t r i k e us as an unexplained absurdity. Consequently, we can appreciate a l l the more graphically the weight of time f e l t by Vladimir and Estragon. However, a further dimension to t h i s perspective i s added by both Vladimir and Estragon as the second evening draws to a close. The tendency toward an objective aware-ness i s i n i t i a t e d by Vladimir at the outset of the second act when he sings the c i r c u l a r song, pausing a number of times on the word "tomb." He then spends some time t r y i n g to prove to both himself and Estragon that there has been a s i g n i f i c a n t change since the l a s t time they were there, as t h i s would indicate that the process i s not r e p e t i t i v e and that the game they are forced to play has some di r e c t i o n and meaning they might d i s c o v e r — t h a t i s , that time moves. This f a i l s to prove convincing, however, and when Pozzo and Lucky 48 a r r i v e he shows that he i s aware of the true nature of the s i t u a t i o n : A l l I know i s that the hours are long under these conditions, and constrain us to beguile them with proceedings which—how s h a l l I say—which may at f i r s t sight seem reasonable, u n t i l they become a habit. You may say i t i s to prevent our reason from founder-ing. No doubt. But has i t not long been straying i n the night without end of the abyssal depths? That i s what I sometimes wonder." When Pozzo and Lucky leave, Vladimir comments on how much Pozzo and Lucky have changed, hut Estragon observes, "They a l l change. Only we c a n ' t . " ^ Then Vladimir begins to suspect that Pozzo was not b l i n d , that i s , that he had "seen" them a l l too c l e a r l y . Brooding on t h i s , Vladimir then gives h i s own version of Pozzo's speech on time (in which time was seen as simultaneity): Astride of a grave and a d i f f i c u l t b i r t h . Down i n the hole, l i n g e r i n g l y , the grave-digger -puts on the forceps. We have time to grow old. The a i r i s f u l l of our c r i e s . ,,-(He l i s t e n s . ) But habit i s a great deadener.^ He next indicates that he i s aware of the r e l a t i v i t y of t h e i r s i t u a t i o n : At me too someone i s looking, of me too someone is,saying, He i s sleeping, he knows nothing, l e t him sleep on. (Pause.) ,g I can't go on! (Pause.) What have I said?-^ Immediately a f t e r t h i s , the boy a r r i v e s and Vladimir a n t i -cipates h i s message. He i s even ahead of Estragon to some extent, f o r when Estragon says, "I can't go on l i k e t h i s , " Vladimir r e p l i e s , "That's what you think'. At the same 4 9 time, i n a l l of this, both Vladimir and Pozzo (whose blind-ness has given him insight) have the feeling that a l l change i s an illusion—Pozzo feels that perhaps he i s s t i l l sleeping, that no change has really taken place, Vladimir goes even further: Was I sleeping, while the others suffered? Am I sleeping now? To-morrow, when I wake, or think I do, what shall I say of today? That with Estragon my friend, at this place, u n t i l the f a l l of night, I waited for Godot? That Pozzo passed, with his carrier, and that he spoke to us? Prob- , f i ably. But i n a l l that what truth w i l l there be? 5 0 The answer to this i s that from a purely subjective point of view a l l change, a l l events, and indeed a l l action, i s mean-ingless, or to put i t another way, a l l activity i s play. Vladimir has not only gained some awareness of the situation in which he and Estragon are caught, he has also resigned himself to i t : "I can't go on! ... What have I said?" The basic consequence of this awareness and acceptance in so far as i t affects the strategies of waiting becomes clear i f we compare the general nature of the strategies i n each act. While each activity the characters perform (with the exceptions noted at the beginning of this chapter) can be considered a strategy from our point of view, this i s not necessarily the ease with the characters themselves. As a matter of fact, very few of the act i v i t i e s i n the f i r s t act are consciously undertaken simply to pass the time—even the two word games are merely spontaneous improvisations. The 50 o n l y f u l l y c o n s c i o u s s t r a t e g y i n t h i s a c t i s t h e a t t e m p t e d s u i c i d e , f o r t h e P o z z o / L u c k y e p i s o d e i s r e a l l y o u t o f t h e i r h a n d s , a l t h o u g h t h e y do t a k e f u l l a d v a n t a g e o f i t . I n t h e s e c o n d a c t , h o w e v e r , a l m o s t e v e r y a c t i v i t y e i t h e r b e g i n s a s a c o n s c i o u s p a s t i m e o r e v o l v e s i n t o o n e . The s i n g l e e x c e p -t i o n t o t h i s i s V l a d i m i r ' s d e s p e r a t e a t t e m p t t o p r o v e t h a t t h e y a r e i n t h e same p l a c e a s t h e d a y b e f o r e a n d t h a t t h e p l a c e h a s c h a n g e d . The f i r s t o f t h e s e s t r a t e g i e s e v o l v e s f r o m t h e a r g u m e n t a b o u t t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p : " S a y y o u a r e [ h a p p y ] , e v e n i f i t ' s n o t t r u e . " 3 9 The f i r s t w o r d game i s i n i t i a t e d q u i t e c o n -s c i o u s l y b y E s t r a g o n : " I n t h e m e a n t i m e l e t u s t r y t o c o n v e r s e c a l m l y . . . . " 4 0 a n d t h e s e c o n d w o r d game i s s t a r t e d b y V l a d -i m i r : "We c o u l d s t a r t a l l o v e r a g a i n p e r h a p s . " 4 1 The n e x t c o n s c i o u s s t r a t e g y a g a i n e v o l v e s f r o m E s t r a g o n ' s n e w b o o t s : " W h a t a b o u t t r y i n g t h e m ? . . . I t ' d p a s s t h e t i m e . . . I a s s u r e y o u , i t ' d b e a n o c c u p a t i o n . " 4 2 A f t e r t h i s V l a d i m i r i n i t i a t e s t h e h a t t r i c k t o e n t i c e E s t r a g o n b a c k . T h e n a s e r i e s o f g a m e s f o l l o w i n r a p i d s u c c e s s i o n , b e g i n n i n g w i t h p l a y i n g a t " P o z z o a n d L u c k y ; " 4 3 f o l l o w e d b y t h e " a b u s e " g a m e — " T h a t ' s t h e i d e a , l e t ' s a b u s e e a c h o t h e r ; " 4 4 t h e m a k i n g u p g a m e — " N o w l e t ' s m a k e u p ; 1 , 4 5 t h e " e x e r c i s e " g a m e — " W e c o u l d do o u r e x e r -c i s e s ; " 4 6 a n d f i n a l l y , t h e " t r e e " g a m e — " L e t ' s j u s t do t h e t r e e , f o r t h e b a l a n c e . " 4 7 A f t e r t h i s , P o z z o a n d L u c k y a r r i v e a n d V l a d i m i r q u i t e c o n s c i o u s l y b e g i n s t o m a k e p o m p o u s s p e e c h e s : " L e t u s n o t w a s t e o u r t i m e i n i d l e d i s c o u r s e J 1 , 4 8 5 1 We might conclude from t h i s that there seems to he a d i r e c t r e l a t i o n s h i p between the awareness of the r e p e t i t i v e nature of the s i t u a t i o n , the acceptance of i t , and the con-scious attempt to invent pastimes which, considering the severe conditions of the main characters* existence, i s a creative process. The strategies of waiting to t h i s point, therefore, are a form of improvised a r t , analogous to the a r t of stage comedians who have no play to follow. 52 CHAPTER TWO—NOTES 1 Samuel Beckett, Molloy (New York: Grove, i960), p. 117. Samuel Beckett, Waiting f o r Godot (New York: Grove, 1954), p. 9. 4 'Ibid. Ibid, 'ibid, 'ibid. I b i d . 8 Ibid. hold. 10 11 12 1 3 Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. pp. 12-U. pp. 40-41. p. 41. p. 42. p. 49. p. 10. p. 58. p. 19. p. 7. f o r example, p. 44« p. 7. 1^Samuel Beckett, Play (London: Faber & Faber, 1964), p. 18. 1 5 ^Beckett, Godot, p. 8. 1 6 M a r t i n E s s l i n , Introduction to Samuel Beckett: A Co l l e c t i o n  of C r i t i c a l Essays, ed. Martin E s s l i n , Twentieth Century Views (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1965), p. 3. 1 7Ruby Conn, Samuel Beckett: The Comic Gamut (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1962), p. 206. 1 0 Raymond Federman, Journey into Chaos: Samuel Beckett's  Early F i c t i o n (Berkeley: University of C a l i f o r n i a Press, 1965), see Appendix f o r summary of Mercier and Camier. l l 9 B e c k e t t , Godot, p. 40. 53. 2 0 B e c k e t t , Godot, p. 44. 2 l I M d . , p. 11, P. 1 9 ' . S e l f R o d e r i c k J . H o . f m a ^ S a ^ (New York: E.P. Bat ton, 1 9 W , P. 2 3 I b i d . 2 4Ruby Conn, nnmic Gamut, p. 204. 2 5 B e c k e t t , Godot, p. 58. 2 6 I b i d . 2 7 I b i d . , p. 37. 2 8 I b i d . , P. 46. 2 9 I b i d . , P. 2 1 • 3°Ibid. 3 1 I b i d . , p. 31 . 5 2 i M d . , P. 2 2 . P- 2 4 ' 3 5 I b i d . , P. 51. 5 4 I b i d . , P. 32. 5 5 I b i d . , p. 58. 3 6 I b i d . 5 7 I b i d . , p. 60. 3 8 I b i d . , p. 58. 3 9 I b i d . , P. 39. 4°Ibid., P. 40. 4 1 Ibid., p. 4-1. 4 2 I b i d . , p. 44. 4 3 I b i d . , p. 47. 4 4 l b i d . , p. 48. 54. ^Beckett, Godot, p. 48.' 46 Ibid., p. 49. 4 7 I b i d . 4 8 I b i d . , p. 51. 55. CHAPTER THREE ENDGAME Even more than i n Waiting f o r Godot, the paradoxes of "that o l d Greek," Zeno of ELea, underlie the themes and ac t i o n s — a n d consequently the s t r a t e g i e s — o f Endgame. Zeno's philosophy i s that a f i n i t e being (e.g. man) i s unrelated to and incompatible with the universe, the essence of which i s 1 i n f i n i t y , just as the subjective side of man i s unrelated to and incompatible with the objective world. This dichotomy i s expressed i n the play by the "heap of m i l l e t " paradox. I t introduces the play: "It's f i n i s h e d , nearly finis h e d , i t must be nearly f i n i s h e d . (Pause.) Grain upon grain, one by one, and one day, suddenly, there's a heap, the impossible heap." It reoccurs near the end of the play: "Moment upon moment, pattering down, l i k e the m i l l e t grains of ... that old Greek, and a l l l i f e long you wait for that to mount up to a l i f e . " The point i s that the completed heap, or l i f e , i s an imposs-i b i l i t y — o n e moves closer and closer but the whole cannot be comprehended, the l a s t second i s either caught and suspended i n a limbo of consciousness or i t i s always one second away. Endgame i s about t h i s l a s t second. One of the two most s i g n i f i c a n t differences between th i s play and Waiting f o r Godot i s i t s l o c a t i o n . Whereas the 56. e a r l i e r play takes place i n the open, on a country road, and tangental to society (represented by Pozzo and Lucky), End- game takes place i n a closed space, completely cut o f f from society and the outside world, and on the borderline between land and sea (as i n Bmbers. which takes place i n the closed space of the mind of Henry, who s i t s on the beach). In addition, the movement i n Endgame i n terms of psycholog-i c a l space, i s a withdrawal into the mind of Hamm, and "leaving" on the part of C l o v — n e i t h e r of which i s accomp-l i s h e d although both are i n i t i a t e d . Nagg, who i s not quite dead, and N e l l , who i s not quite a l i v e , are f i g u r a t i v e l y on the same b o r d e r l i n e — t h e i r stumps r e s t on sand from the beach—and confined i n an even smaller space. The walls which separate the i n s i d e from the outside represent the b a r r i e r between the two modes of existence—subjective and obj e c t i v e — a n d are analogous to but not the same as the s k u l l , which separates the " l i t t l e world" from the "big world." This barrier can be crossed, but the moment i t i s the thing that crosses i s changed, i t i s no longer what i t was, and therefore i t has never r e a l l y crossed the b a r r i e r . For t h i s reason Hamm has a desire to f e e l the "old w a l l " and then to be placed safely back i n the c e n t r e — s a f e l y , because "beyond i s the other h e l l , " 4 which to him i s worse than the one he i s i n . Within these walls an a r t i f i c i a l , f i n i t e space i s apparently created and here Hamm can at l e a s t pretend to rul e as i f the conditions of h i s existence were 57 under h i s control. The second most important difference between Endgame and Waiting for Godot i s the quality of i t s time. In the l a t t e r time, l i k e space, i s r e l a t i v e l y open-ended: the country road i s supposedly extended i n both directions and i s thus a l i n k with the objective world, and time i s open i n the sense that (we discover) there i s apparently always another day. In other words, the waiting seems to be taking place i n an i n f i n i t e / e t e r n a l system. On the other hand, Endgame appears to be a closed system. That i s , time i s ostensibly coming to an end (for Hamm and Clov) i n that i t appears that t h e i r l i v e s (and "stories") are coming to an end, and consequently the basic structure of the play i s not characterized by rep-e t i t i o n as i s that of Waiting f o r Godot, but by the process 5 of ending: "Something i s taking i t s course." Of course, even Waiting f o r Godot i s not r e a l l y characterized by repet-i t i o n since everything from b i r t h i s i n the process of ending, but i n the "middle game" where there i s always another day ahead and one day i s e s s e n t i a l l y the same as the next, "rep-e t i t i o n " seems to be more appropriate than "ending." However, i n Endgame there i s also no end, and consequently there are two d i s t i n c t l e v e l s of action: one i s an imitation of the process of ending and the other i s the process of waiting for the end which does not come, and f o r our purposes the i m i t -ation w i l l be considered as a strategy of waiting. I t i s very easy to confuse these two l e v e l s i n terms of what i s 58. r e a l l y happening. That i s , i t i s d i f f i c u l t to t e l l which l e v e l i s r e a l , since Beckett himself has deliberately made the question ambiguous. Just as there seems to be a movement i n space (Hamm's withdrawal from the objective world), there seems to be a movement (almost imperceptible) i n time, f o r the s i t u a t i o n at the end of the play i s apparently d i f f e r e n t from that at the beginning: Hamm speaks l e s s , and more slowly, while Clov has h i s hat and coat on and has put everything "in order." However, t h i s i s only the apparent d i r e c t i o n the play i s t a k i n g — t h e imitation of the process of ending. Clov deludes himself about leaving as he says, "I'm leaving you" or i t s equivalent f i f t e e n times during the course of the play, but he nevero.does. He merely imitates leaving by going into h i s k i t c h e n — t o stare at the wall and wait. He also deludes himself about time, as he frequently 6 7 claims that " i t ' s f i n i s h e d , " that he i s "winding up." S i m i l a r l y , Hamm deludes himself that he has a choice between staying and l e a v i n g — h e t e l l s Clov to bui l d a r a f t so that they can leave (he does not r e a l l y mean i t , as he w i l l not l e t Clov leave) and he t r i e s to propel himself with a gaff, p a l l i n vain. He, too, l i k e s to pretend " i t ' s f i n i s h e d " as he t r i e s to f i n i s h h i s story and h i s l i f e , but he i s not dead as the curtain f a l l s . However, t h i s i s a l l part of the dramatic, game-like strategy played to pass the interminable time u n t i l the end, as are Hamm's st o r i e s and Ciov's con-scious attempts to complicate simple actions i n order to 5 9 . prolong them—he even admits t h i s at one point, f o r example, when he drops the telescope: "I did i t on purpose. 1 , 9 To Nagg and N e l l , who are even closer to the end than Hamm, space i s more r e s t r i c t e d , as i s movement within that space, and i n t h e i r senile o ld age time has become relatively-meaningless to them. Just as they "play" with the r e s t r i c -10 tions of t h e i r space: "Why th i s farce day a f t e r day?" (after they have t r i e d and f a i l e d to k i s s , knowing that they cannot), they "play" with time. N e l l especially has a f e e l i n g of euphoria about the past which i s much l i k e Win-11 n i e ' s — h e r "Ah! Yesterday!" i s s i m i l a r to Winnie's "Old 12 s t y l e " — e v e n though i t i s completely a l i e n to her present 1 ^5 condition: "Can you believe i t ? " J Memories and a h a l f -hearted concern f o r t h e i r material comforts are a l l these senile creatures have l e f t . While N e l l i s quite content to d r i f t with time as her hours run out, Nagg, who i s somewhat more a l i v e , has to adopt a more active strategy: he has to talk, and once again we have a subject-object rela t i o n s h i p much l i k e that between Vladimir and Estragon. During the course of the play Hamm and Clov do not even reach t h i s stage of decay, while Nagg and N e l l go beyond i t . What i s r e a l l y going on here? Perhaps i f we can d i s -cover the hypothetical conditions of t h i s play we w i l l have a key to the strategies of waiting i n Endgame. Shortly a f t e r the opening of the play, Hamm and Clov i n e f f e c t t e l l us what these imperatives are. Hamm i s b l i n d and cannot walk, 60 while Clov cannot s i t down. Clov depends on Hamm fo r food while Hamm depends on Clov for sight and mobility. There-fore, Clov cannot leave, although he wants to, u n t i l Hamm dies, whereas i t seems that Hamm w i l l not die as long as Clov i s around to take care of him. What we have here, then, i s a master-servant rel a t i o n s h i p which imposes human l i m i t -ations on t h e i r existence. In addition, they are r e s t r i c t e d to a confined space and l i m i t e d to a dwindling number of material aids. Since they cannot escape t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p u n t i l the end of th e i r l i v e s and since t h e i r l i v e s do not end by the end of the play, they are c l e a r l y playing a game calculated to pass the interminable time u n t i l t h e i r end does come. As the endgame i s played out, the relat i o n s h i p between the characters becomes more c l e a r l y defined, whereas i n the "middle game" ( i . e . Waiting f o r Godot) the d i s t i n c t i o n s are increasingly blurred. Hamm i s much more the ego, the author-i t a r i a n s e l f who can demand obedience and attention from h i s object, and Clov (the object) i s much more the mechanical slave. At the same time there i s evidently an interdependence between the two—they are t i e d together i n much the same way that Pozzo and Lucky are t i e d together (symbolized i n t h e i r case by the rope). This paradox i s expressed by Hamm and Clov: Hamm: Gone from me you'd be dead I Clov: And vice versa. <\. Hamm: Outside of here i t i s deathI ^ 61 In other words, the status quo i s the only possible s i t -u a t i o n — t h e two are inseparable i n spite of t h e i r mutual d i s -l i k e — a n y change would not only mean the end of th e i r r e l a t -ionship, but also the end of each character. Consequently, Hamm and Clov cannot be f u l l y explained as separate char-acters or even as a sado-masochistic r e l a t i o n s h i p , l i k e that between Pozzo and lucky, since i n the f i r s t case each cannot exist without the other, and i n the second case Clov i s not the w i l l i n g slave who fi n d s h i s freedom i n the other's dom-i n a n c e — a t l e a s t not nearly to the extent observable i n the Pozzo/lucky r e l a t i o n s h i p . Thus, while each character seems to be a complete human being, i t might be h e l p f u l to consider them as separate aspects of a single personality as expressed, f o r example, by the mind-body duality. Considered i n t h i s way, t h e i r interdependence and antagonism can be explained— why, f o r example, the body cannot leave and why the mind can-not be free u n t i l i t does; how the mind can demand and the body be forced to obey; and how the presence of one causes pain to the other. Clov cannot leave u n t i l Hamm dies because he depends on Hamm fo r food, and conversely, when Hamm dies Clov can leave, but w i l l starve. Hamm cannot be free u n t i l Clov leaves, but he depends on Clov f o r mobility and con-sequently he w i l l die i f Clov does leave. F i n a l l y , we can also see why Clov must obey when Hamm whistles; why Clov i s able to assert h i s independence more and more as Hamm weak-ens; and why Clov, who i s mobile, experiences pain i n h i s 6 2 . legs and Hamm, who i s immobile, experiences pain and "dripping" i n h i s head. We might safely conclude, therefore, that Beckett i s stating that the rel a t i o n s h i p between humans exhibits the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the subject-object r e l a t i o n -ship, the sado-masochistic r e l a t i o n s h i p , and the mind-body rel a t i o n s h i p , and that co-operation between the characters i n the strategies of waiting i s l i m i t e d by these c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . Unlike Waiting for Godot, Endgame has l i t t l e to of f e r i n the way of st r u c t u r a l i n s i g h t s . In the f i r s t place, the elements of composition have neither the same meaning nor are they as p l e n t i f u l . There are no "events" i n t h i s play, unless we change the meaning of that word and apply i t to the appearances of Nagg and N e l l , the comings and goings of Clov, and Hamm's story. The rather d e f i n i t e difference be-tween the use of the pause and silence has disappeared, as only pauses (of varying quality and length) are employed—in f a c t there are nearly twice as many pauses as there are pauses and silences combined i n Waiting f o r Godot, which i s a longer play. Once again, of course, they a f f e c t the rhythm and pace of the play, but t h i s time the ef f e c t i s to pro-gressively slow the play down—nearly twice as many pauses occur i n the second h a l f of the play and nearly two-thirds of these i n the l a s t quarter. Sim i l a r l y , the number of words i n the play i n r e l a t i o n to i t s length r i s e s and f a l l s l i k e a dying heartbeat, with a l i t t l e f l u r r y of " a c t i v i t y " occurring near the end, which i n turn dies o f f slowly as the 63 end i s approached. While i t i s d i f f i c u l t to judge without watching a per-formance of the play, i t seems that there i s a corresponding increase i n physical a c t i v i t y on the part of Clov as the play nears i t s end—he busily puts things i n order, looks out the windows, and goes through the process of "winding up." A l l of these factors underline the action of the play, which i s to play out the endgame by adopting a strategy which imitates ending, that i s , pretending to end even i f they do not and know they cannot—at l e a s t they pass the time. This means that the entire play i s a single strategy with a number of stages which correspond to the form of the play, with the exception of the end. In other words, the game i s an i m i t -ation of a l i n e a r plot, with a beginning, middle, and end, but the end of the game does not correspond to the end of t h e i r l i v e s nor to the end of the play, which i s a r b i t r a r y . Consequently, we are faced with the question of what happens next when the curtain falls—Hamm i s not dead and Clov has not gone out the door. Either the game would continue i n the same d i r e c t i o n somehow (but t h i s would mean an end to the play as such since there would be no dialogue) or i t would begin again. There i s nothing to indicate which path would be taken i f the play were to continue. The endgame f i t s the play so well that an i l l u s i o n i s created which i s thrown i n doubt only by the inconclusive ending. The opening r i t u a l of the play when Clov mechanically 64 but deliberately prolongs the business of opening the cur-tains and taking the sheets o f f Hamm and the ash bins, ann-ounces the beginning of the endgame. This strategy i s car r i e d through the play with variat i o n s corresponding to the progress 1 5 of the game; Clov takes Hamm on a tour of h i s "kingdom," he climbs up to the window and reports the condition of the 16 1' outside world, and then he proceeds to put things i n order, 18 1 Q wind things up, and dress for the outside v — a c t i o n s which are performed with the same r i t u a l - l i k e quality, and yet presumably have never been done before. The endgame i n chess occurs a f t e r the serabbling f o r p o s i t i o n and the major battles have taken place and there are very few pieces l e f t on the board. The business of the play-ers at th i s point i s to checkmate t h e i r opponent's King as quickly and e f f i c i e n t l y as possible. However, i n chess two endings are p o s s i b l e — t h e checkmate and the stalemate—both of which are f i n a l l y inconclusive although by an ar b i t r a r y agreement the checkmate i s the end. But the checkmate does not mean the death of the King, i t i s only the f i n a l move of the game—the King cannot move any farther f o r i f he did, the rule s of the game would be broken. He can go up to the end, but as King he cannot be consummated i n the end. Thus, i n a sense, the checkmate i s a form of stalemate and we can see t h i s i l l u s t r a t e d i n Endgame, f o r while Waiting f o r Godot with i t s r e p e t i t i o n i s a stalemate by perpetual check, Endgame i s a stalemate by checkmate. "King" Hamm can go r i g h t up to the 65. end but he can do nothing about death, and u n t i l he dies Clov cannot leave. I f we earry the chess analogy a l i t t l e further, Clov would be the guard Pawn, who protects the King but cannot move. Since Hamm w i l l not l i s t e n to Clov's plea, 20 "Let's stop playing," a f e e l i n g experienced by most chess players when i t seems pointless to continue, we w i l l never see the end. We might conclude t h i s point by adding that the endgame played by Hamm and Clov i s very much l i k e Mr. Endon 1s game, but without Mr. Endon 1s detachment. Endgame seems to answer each of the s t i p u l a t i o n s i n Huizinga*s d e f i n i t i o n of play as an a c t i v i t y f r e e l y entered i n t o , occurring within certain l i m i t s of space and time, having no contact with any r e a l i t y outside i t s e l f , and whose performance i s i t s own end. Forced to play under r e s t r i c t e d conditions and with a decreasing number of "aids"—no more bic y c l e wheels, rugs, pap, pain k i l l e r , and c o f f i n s — t h e p r i n c i p a l characters seem to play the game according to t h e i r own r a t i o n a l l y oriented rules and objectives i n a grand s t r a t -egy against an unpredictable opponent which can only end i n a stalemate. That a stalemate i s i n e v i t a b l e i s evident i n the nature of the opponents, which f o r the sake of convenience can be expressed by a series of i n t e r r e l a t e d d u a l i t i e s : body and mind, subject and object, subject and the world, and subject and time. Unable and unwilling to cope with object-ive existence, the c h a r a c t e r s — t h a t i s , Hamm, with the forced assistance of Clov—attempt to create a closed system gov-66 erned by themselves. This attempt, however, i s thwarted at the same time by t h e i r very existence i n the world, a f a c t manifested by Ciov's antagonism and desire to leave, and Hamm1s physical pain and need to talk to someone besides him-s e l f . These factors plus the deteriorating e f f e c t of time are the weapons of th e i r opponent, and t h i s means that when 21 they say, "It's f i n i s h e d , " i n f a c t i t i s not, i t has only become a l i t t l e harder to play the game. I t i s not surprising, then, that Hamm should be very interested i n the condition of the outside world and i n s i s t on frequent and accurate reports of any change i n the l i g h t , since t h i s would s i g n i f y h i s own (real) progress towards the end. The progress i s s l i g h t , however, i f i n f a c t there i s any at a l l . Endgame takes place, as does Waiting f o r Godot, i n the grey of evening—neither the l i g h t of day nor the darkness of n i g h t — b u t t h i s i s a borderline s i t u a t i o n which portrays the rel a t i o n s h i p between time, space, and man with very l i t t l e perspective. In Waiting f o r Godot we are shown simultaneously the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the objective and subjective worlds, so that we are able to compare the two— the world of Vladimir and Estragon gains meaning i n r e l a t i o n to the world of Pozzo and Lucky as they b r i e f l y touch each other. In Endgame, on the other hand, we are cut o f f from the outside world just as much as Hamm and Clov are and con-sequently the r e a l process of ending i s barely perceptible. Progress towards the end i s so s l i g h t , i n f a c t , that the 6 7 . characters complain that one "day" i s the same as the next and they indicate that t h e i r "game" or strategy of waiting (the i mitation of ending) has been going on f o r some times 22 Clov claims that the outside i s "the same," he complains (as N e l l does) about "this farce day af t e r day," 2 3 and Hamm concludes that " i t ' s a day l i k e any other day." 2 4 At the same time, however, there i s a gradual change by i n f i n i t e s i m a l 25 degrees, measured by the f a c t that the l i g h t has "sunk" J 26 when there had been "a b i t l e f t , " and the e f f e c t of t h i s change i s to make the game a l l the harder and more p a i n f u l , since i t means a constant decrease i n the number of aids (e.g. p a i n k i l l e r ) the characters can use, and a constant deterior-ation of the co-operation between the mind and the body. While Hamm and Clov are f i g u r a t i v e l y on the same team, they are at best reluctant partners, and consequently there i s a divided focus between the disintegration of the contact of Hamm's consciousness with any being, object, or experience external to i t s e l f , and the desire of Clov to break away, but neither of these actions can be completed because of the presence of the other character. As the end of the game i s approached and Hamm becomes more introspective, he discards h i s "props"—those material objects such as the toy dog, whistle, and gaff, which connect him to the external w o r l d — since they are no longer aids, but hindrances, to h i s desire to " f i n i s h i t , " that i s , h i s strategy. At the same time Clov beeomes more independent as he h i t s Hamm over the head with 68 the toy dog, goes through the process of winding up, and dresses f o r the outside. Hamm also begins to deal with the condition of loneliness forecast by NaggJ I was asleep, as happy as a King, and you woke me up to have me l i s t e n to you. I t wasn't indispensible, you didn't r e a l l y need to have me l i s t e n to you. (Pause.) I hope the day w i l l come when y o u ' l l r e a l l y need to have me l i s t e n to you, and need to hear my voice, any voice. (Pause.) Yes, I hope I ' l l l i v e t i l l then, to hear you c a l l i n g me l i k e when you were a tiny boy, and were frightened i n the dark, and I was your only hope. 2 7 Hamm acknowledges the fear which w i l l overtake him when he i s alone, but r e a l i z e s that as t h i s happens h i s strategy w i l l be to turn to f i c t i o n to dispel the fear: A l l kinds of fantasies I That I'm being watchedI A r a t ! Steps! Breath held and then.... (He breathes out.) Then babble, babble, words, l i k e the s o l i t a r y c h i l d who turns himself into children, two, three, so as to be to-gether and whisper i n the dark. 2 8 This r a i s e s the question of Hamm's so-called story, the story of the man who came begging f o r h i s c h i l d . There i s at l e a s t a strong suspicion that t h i s story i s based on the incident (real?) with Mother Peg, 2 9 who came begging f o r o i l f o r her lamp, or that i t i s a f i c t i o n a l i z e d version of the Mother Peg incident. At any rate, Hamm's strategy i n thi s regard consists of h i s elaborate pains at composition with "detached" c r i t i c a l commentt "A b i t feeble, t h a t . " 5 0 He ob-69 j e c t i f i e s the story further by using a M n a r r a t i v e tone" and concludes that he i s soon going to f i n i s h i t , unless he brings i n other characters. This l a t t e r note provides the only explanation of the appearance of the small boy on the beach, that i s , that t h e i r opponent i s doing just that: introducing another character, which means that even when Hamm and Clov die the game w i l l be taken up by someone else. This play i s also on the borderline between theatre and f i c t i o n and expresses a movement much l i k e that from a t h e a t r i c a l , stage existence to a f i c t i o n a l , "novel" existence as Hamm withdraws from the world into himself and from d i -alogue into monologue. At the same time, however, there i s a counter-movement from the dialogue to mime, as Clov becomes independent by speaking l e s s and moving more. But as long as they are on stage ( i n the room together) they must a c t — Hamm must speak out loud and Clov must l i s t e n and answer, f o r the dialogue keeps them both there. When the dialogue ceases (or very shortly thereafter) the play ceases, and the char-acters are no longer stage characters. Thus, as Hamm and Clov begin to divide into separate e n t i t i e s — w h i c h coincides with t h e i r deaths—the strategy also begins to come apart. That i s , the co-operation of dialogue, which i s tenuous and h o s t i l e at best, begins to break down: the f i n a l stage of Hamm's strategy i s h i s story and Clov's i s the mimed winding up. More than i n Waiting for Godot, then, Endgame contains numerous small references to the characters' t h e a t r i c a l ex-70. istence and even to t h e i r awareness of i t as such. Both characters seem to address an (hypothetical) audience—Clov •z? r e f e r s to h i s attempt to make an e x i t , ^ and Hamm mentions the "aside, " > v the " s o l i l o q u y , n J ^ and the "underplot."-^ These refersnces are a l l concerned with what the characters are doing, as are such phrases as "We're getting o n , n J and 37 "We've come to the end. n J These remarks on the condition of the game are juxtaposed with references to the condition of the outside world, such as, "something i s taking i t s course" 3' — a reference which i s r e l a t i v e l y vague and which implies that while they know exactly what they are doing, they do not know what t h e i r opponent i s doing. This brings us back to the assertion made at the beginning of t h i s chapter that i n t h i s play there are two l e v e l s of action: the imitation of the process of ending, and waiting f o r the end, and that the i m i t a t i o n i s a strategy of waiting. Thus, since Clov, f o r example, knows that he cannot leave u n t i l Hamm dies, h i s attempts at putting things i n order, winding up, and making an e x i t , are i n f a c t comic imitations of those actions and c o l l e c t i v e l y an imit a t i o n of the process of ending. In conclusion, i t i s clear that the game of waiting for the end i s long, tedious, and inconclusive. While Hamm and Clov are quite aware of the progress of t h e i r game and at the same time desperately tr y i n g to measure t h i s against the "progress" of the outside i n order to prove that t h e i r game has brought them closer to the end, the difference i s so 71. s l i g h t that they have very l i t t l e perspective. Prom our point of view, the death of another person or thing when i t i s i n i t s f i n a l stage seems very quick, just as a f t e r the person or thing has died i t s l i f e i s complete and finish e d , but to the person or thing experiencing the approach of death, the end never comes although the agony grows stronger. In other words, the end i s just a v i c i o u s game. 72 CHAPTER THREE—NOTES This i s p r a c t i c a l l y common knowledge, but I r e f e r the reader to a summary of Zeno's paradoxes i n W.T. JonesJ A History of Western Philosophy (New YorkJ Harcourt Brace, 1 9 5 2 ) , p. 37. 2Samuel Beckett, Endgame (New York: Grove, 1958), p. 1. 3 I b i d . , p. 70. 4 I b i d . , p. 26. 5 I b i d . , f o r example, p. 13, P. 32. 6 I b i d . , f o r example, p. 1, 7 I b i d . , p. 7 2 . 8 I b i d . , p. 50, p. 79. 9 I b i d . , p. 29. 1 0 I b i d . , p. U . 11 Ibid., p. 20. 1 2 Samuel Beckett, Happy Days (New 1 example, p. 42. l 3 B e c k e t t , Endgame, p. 21. u . 15 16 17 hIbid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. 1 S I b i d . l 9 I b i d . P. P. P« P« P. P. 70. 25. 73. 57. 72. 82. 73 20 21 22. 23-2A, 25: 26. 27, 28, 29-30. 31. 32: 333 34, 35-36-37-38, Beckett, Endgame, p. 77. Ibid., f o r example, p. 1, Ibid., P. 4. Ibid., P. 32. Ibid., P. 45. Ibid., P. 30. Ibid. Ibid., P. 56. Ibid., P. 70. Ibid., P. 75. Ibid., P. 52. Ibid., f o r example, p. 50. Ibid., P. 81. Ibid., P? 77. Ibid., P. 78. Ibid. Ibid., P« 9. Ibid., p. 79. Ibid., P. 13. 74 CHAPTER FOUR KRAPP'S LAST TAPE Now the day i s over, Night i s drawing nigh-igh, ^ Shadows— Lof the evening... Q Krapp stops singing a f t e r the word "shadows" i n the above fragment from a t r a d i t i o n a l Anglican Vespers hymn. The time i s l a t e evening, the space around h i s table i s i n deep shadow, h i s face i s very white except f o r a l a s t spot of colour (his nose) nourished by heavy drinking, and he i s about to record h i s " l a s t " tape. He i s beginning to f i n d that day and night are separated by an interminable period 2 and for t h i s reason the words "memorable equinox" have very l i t t l e meaning f o r him now. As he s i t s there, surrounded by darkness, he appears to be a manifestation of Hamm's "speck i n the void."^ He i s alone with h i s tapes, which, while i r -relevant to him, nevertheless have been a source of enter-tainment (and consequently a strategy of waiting), taking the place of another person. The l i g h t too, while symbol-i z i n g h i s ess e n t i a l i s o l a t i o n from the world, helps him f e e l "less alone," 4 e s p e c i a l l y as he moves around i n the dark and comes back to i t . Krapp*s Last Tape, then, i s a play con-cerned with the i n d i v i d u a l as the s o l i t a r y player i n the game of l i v i n g , and the focus i s on Krapp and h i s e f f o r t s to 75 use M s past as a strategy, rather than on the relat i o n s h i p between two characters as partners. This i s the most impor-tant new imperative i n the game of wai t i n g — t h e loneliness of o l d age anticipated by Hamm i n the l a s t play discussed. Krapp i s not only old, he also has a l l of the i n f i r m i t i e s of old age—the f a c u l t i e s of hearing, speech, and sight have deteriorated, M s walk i s infirm, he thinks slowly, and he probably has some chest condition. In addition, h i s clothes are o l d and covered with the d i r t of years and he no longer takes any care of h i s personal appearance—Ms h a i r i s d i s -orderly and h i s face unshaven. Krapp has reached that stage i n l i f e where other people have been shut out and where the only pastime i s memory. Memory i n t h i s play i s compared to spools of tape which have been numbered and stored away i n boxes, and the mechanism of memory i s a tape recorder. The res t of the hypothetical im-peratives of t h i s play, therefore, are derived from the mechanics of tape recording: Krapp can select the passage he wants to hear, play i t and replay i t , stop i t and s t a r t i t again, or he can record a new tape. By r e f e r r i n g to the ledger which records the years of the tapes and a summary of thei r contents, Krapp can select a p a r t i c u l a r portion of h i s past and play i t back, but as a subject who has changed many times since then, he cannot i d e n t i f y with that past, he can only l i s t e n to i t objectively. Throughout the play Krapp i s i n a semi-stupor caused, by 76. h i s heavy drinking, and t h i s condition i s increased as the play progresses. We are not t o l d why he drinks, but we do know that i t has been going on f o r a long time and that he probably uses i t to k i l l the pain of waiting. In any case, i t does not induce any state of euphoria or nostalgia, nor does i t lessen h i s cy n i c a l and c r i t i c a l attitude toward h i s past. His drinking i s therefore an unsatisfactory strategy. L i f e to Krapp has been a long and continuously "flagging pursuit of happiness" as a r e s u l t of nagging troubles of the body, such as constipation, indigestion, alcoholism, and "that o l d weakness"^—bananas. Most of a l l , however, he has been disappointed i n h i s attempts to f i n d happiness with women? "Could have been happy with her, up there on the Bal-t i c , and the pines, and the dunes. (Pause.) Could I? 7 (Pause.) And she? (Pause.) Pah!" As we have seen, Beck-ett has maintained that happiness between two people can only be the r e s u l t of a perfect i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of subject and ob-ject , and t h i s i s impossible. Consequently, a l l Krapp has l e f t i s the memory of f a i l u r e : Lie propped up i n the dark—and wander. Be again i n the dingle on a Christmas eve gathering h o l l y , the red berried. (Pause.) Be again on Croghan on a Sun-day morning, i n the haze, with the bitch, stop and l i s t e n to the b e l l s . (Pause.) And so on. (Pause.) Be again, be again. (Pause.) A l l that old misery. (Pause.) Once wasn't enough for you. 8 The thought of wandering through the years and r e l i v i n g " a l l that old misery" i s too much f o r Krapp, and he throws t h i s 77 tape (which he i s recording) away. He then plays hack the old tape with i t s sexual passage, which i s a description of momentary union that Krapp t r i e s i n vain to r e c a p t u r e — i t cannot l a s t , as Winnie i n Happy Pays acknowledges: "Sadness a f t e r intimate sexual intercourse one i s f a m i l i a r with of q course. n* Perhaps the central meaning of the play i s , as Beckett might say, a matter of elimination. Krapp i s try i n g to sep-10 arate the "grain from the husks" and thereby eliminate the "old misery" and f i n d something worth keeping, but there i s nothing but misery and f a i l u r e . This i s borne out by the 11 12 many references to "laxation," "the i r o n s t o o l , " "the 1*3 hard l i t t l e rubber b a l l " y—and. a l l of these are linked by the sex act. In other words, Krapp*s past seen i n retrospect only adds more misery to h i s physical deterioration. The structure of the play i s based on the interplay of the " l a s t " tape and the e a r l i e r one, as well as, once again, the use of pauses, which i n t h i s case increase d r a s t i c a l l y during the l a s t t h i r d of the.play as Krapp himself slows down, u n t i l the end with i t s long silence and empty tape. By mechanizing memory with the a i d of a tape recorder!(Krapp's basic strategy) and with each year's tape—recorded on each 1 A birthday, the "awful occasion" - - c a r e f u l l y numbered and stacked away i n boxes, Beckett has dramatized simultaneously the r e l a t i o n s h i p between past, present, and future. The key to t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p and i t s meaning l i e s i n the structure of 78. the play, which i s divided roughly into s i x sections with Krapp himself hovering over each: Krapp, Tape I, Tape I I , Tape I, Krapp, Tape I. In the introduction Beckett has ind-i c a t e d that the play takes place on a "late evening i n the 1 5 future," and at f i r s t t h i s seems to be an i r r e l e v a n t d i r -ective because of the "presentness" of the stage medium. Shortly, however, we f i n d that the presence of the tape re-corder makes the tape "past" i n r e l a t i o n to the stage Krapp who i s "present," but then the tape speaks of an e a r l i e r tape, which i n r e l a t i o n to i t s e l f i s now the "past," making the tape "present" and Krapp himself the "future." We are now able to see at once the whole of a man's l i f e and the r e l a t i o n between h i s past, present, and "future," along with the meaning each "time" has for i t s successor—a meaning, we f i n d , that i s so divorced from the present that the tape i s l i s t e n e d to with both horror and contempt. Quite frequently Krapp cannot even understand some of the words he had used—he has to look up "viduity" i n the 16 dictionary and "memorable equinox" no longer has any mean-17 ing f o r him. With the past forever hidden from him and with nothing l e f t to record f o r the future, Krapp i s caught i n the present, and l i k e the characters who came before him he must simply wait* In Waiting f o r Godot we witnessed the juxtaposition of subjective and objective time cut o f f from each other; Pozzo and Lucky grow old while Vladimir and Es-tragon do not. In Endgame we saw subjective time cut o f f 79 from both objective time and i t s own p a s t — t o the extent that i t had become the material f o r f i c t i o n . Now with Krapp's  Last Tape we have three time periods, each of which i s sub-je c t i v e at the time of recording but objective at the time of l i s t e n i n g . The effectiveness of the strategy of the tapes, however, i s wearing th i n as Krapp has begun to f e e l the pointlessness of h i s yearly recordings. Possibly h i s o r i g i n a l intention had been to record impressions from year to year so that he would have a measure of the i n t e l l e c t u a l and emotional pro-gress he was making—a basis f o r comparison. But t h i s has proved to be impossible—the past i s no longer "his" and he cannot recapture i t , f o r as Beckett pointed out i n Proust, 18 "the subject has died, many times, on the way." The s i g -n i f icance of the t i t l e thus becomes c l e a r : t h i s cannot be Krapp's l a s t tape because he i s s t i l l l i v i n g , but i t i s h i s l a s t tape because he has nothing more to record a f t e r the " l a s t tape"—"Nothing to say, not a squeak. What's a year 19 now? The sour cud and the i r o n s t o o l . " A l l Krapp can do i s s i t there and wait f o r the surrounding darkness to engulf him. Krapp's l a s t strategy, suggested by the words "iron s t o o l , " i s the word "spool"—the sound of a word has given 20 him "the happiest moment i n the past h a l f m i l l i o n . " 80 CHAPTER FOUR—NOTES 1 Samuel Beckett, Krapp'a Last Tape (New York: Grove, 1 9 6 0 ) , p. 17. 2 I b i d . , p. 13. 5Samuel Beckett, Endgame (New York: Grove, 1958), p. 36. 4Beckett, Krapp's Last Tape, p. 15. 5 I b i d . , p. 16. 6 I b i d . , p. H . 7 I b i d . , p. 25. 8 I b i d . , p. 26. 9Samuel Beckett, Happy Pays (New York: Grove, 1961), p. 57. 1 0 B e c k e t t , Krapp fs Last Tape, p. U . 1 1 Ibid., p. 17. 1 2 I b i d . , p. 25. l 3 I b i d . , p. 20. U I b i d . , p. H . l 5 I b i d . , p. 9. 1 6 I b i d . , p. 18. 1 7 I b i d . , p. 13. l 8Samuel Beckett, Proust (New York: Grove, 1 9 5 7 ) , p. 3. l 9 B e c k e t t , Krapp rs Last Tape, p. 25. 2 0 I b i d . 8 1 . CHAPTER FIVE HAPPY BAYS Winnie i s a middle-aged, buxom Pollyanna whose basic strategy of waiting i s happiness. Most of the time she seems to be cheerful and confident, but i n her condition t h i s seems very funny, f o r nothing i s funnier than t o t a l l y u n j u s t i f i e d t o t a l confidence. However, we soon see that Winnie's con-fidence and cheerfulness are not complete and eternal. She breaks down and c r i e s or f a l t e r s — n o t often, but often enough, and when t h i s happens we can see that her attitude i s not the r e s u l t of happiness, but of a well-developed and habitual strategy which helps her adapt to her s i t u a t i o n and face each day with a smile. When her strategy breaks down she suffers, but not f o r long, f o r her happy memories (she t r i e s to sup-press the unhappy ones) and her grab bag of "habit stimulants" soon restore her w i l l to continue. The l i m i t i n g conditions of her existence are derived from her increasing immobility, the unpredictable b e l l s f o r waking and sleeping, and a decreasing number of material aids — W i l l i e being the main one. Since she cannot know how long she must wait f o r the b e l l to r i n g , Winnie must make the most of each object i n her bag, each a c t i v i t y (such as brushing her teeth), and each topic of conversation which happens to 82 " f l o a t up out of the blue." Whether or not any of these objects, a c t i v i t i e s , or topics of conversation are of any consequence i s of course beside the point. The only require-ment i s that they help her pass the time—happily. Con-sequently, with the exception of those moments when she breaks down, everything she d o e s — i n conjunction with her a b i l i t y to see something i n t e r e s t i n g , wonderful, or merciful i n most thoughts and a c t i v i t i e s — h e l p s her pass the time happily. Winnie i s Beckett's f i r s t (major) female stage character, but she exhibits many of the female attributes of the e a r l i e r f i c t i o n a l l a d i e s , as well as those of N e l l and Maddy looney. She i s quite hefty, has large breasts, arms, shoulders, and probably hips as well, although the f a c t that they are h i d -den indicates that she i s as barren as the ground she i s i n ; and she i s quite sensual, romantic, and, most important and fortunate f o r her, she i s compulsively t a l k a t i v e . She i s also, as C e l i a i s to Murphy, a man-trap, and thereafter a source of constant i r r i t a t i o n to her victim—always main-taining, of course, a very cheerful, motherly manner that i s d i f f i c u l t to object to. In the scheme of things, therefore, she i s W i l l i e ' s goad, a goad he cannot escape, no matter how uncommunicative and re c l u s i v e he becomes. Her constant chatter and nagging questions are the sli n g s and arrows of h i s d a i l y l i f e , and he bears them with a commendable s t o i c -ism. I t i s no wonder, however, that he has no "zest ... no 8 5 i n t e r e s t i n l i f e , " that he has a marvellous g i f t for sleep-ing, and that he i s a man of few words. W i l l i e ' s one need, and Winnie acknowledges t h i s hut must disregard i t , i s to be l e f t i n peace—but her need i s to talk and to have someone to l i s t e n . Who i s to say whose need i s the most urgent? Our focus, however, i s on Winnie. Sometimes W i l l i e disgusts her, but h i s (theoretical) presence i s v i t a l to her: "Just to know that you are there." 3 Since she cannot stop talking, she reasons that W i l l i e must be t h e r e — j u s t as Vlad-imir and Estragon, forced to wait, assume they are waiting f o r something, she reasons that she i s t a l k i n g to_ somebody: I used to think ... (Pause.) ... I say I used to think that I could learn to talk alone. (Pause.) By that I mean to myself, the wilderness. (Smile.) But no. (Smile.) No no. (Smile o f f . ) Ergo you are there.4 She does, however, also talk to h e r s e l f , by employing the s p l i t between her subjective and objective selves as a part-nership i n her strategy against t i m e — a partnership which i s quite successful as she can frequently admonish "herself" f o r being greedy with the bag or with words. On the other hand, her partner at times w i l l simply not obey her: "How often have I said, i n e v i l hours, sing now, Winnie, sing your song, there i s nothing else f o r i t , and did not." For the most part, however, she has amazing control over her partner, and she usually manages to stay h a p p y — t h i s being the point of the play. W i l l i e never gives her any trouble, he i s simply not 8 4 . very co-operative, but t h i s does not p a r t i c u l a r l y bother her since h i s presence i s a l l that i s required, and she confid-ently continues to believe i n h i s presence even i n the second act when W i l l i e never answers her and sheecannot see him. I f we had been presented with only t h i s act, we would have con-cluded that t h i s confidence i s also t o t a l l y u n j u s t i f i e d . But W i l l i e confirms her b e l i e f i n the face of absurdity: "What W i l l i e ? ... MY WILLIE! 1 , 6 Thus, the whole question of the existence of anything external to Winnie i s ^ r a i s e d , even the contents of her bag, her breasts, and her cheeks which she cannot see—but Winnie maintains the existence of the object-i v e world even as a f i c t i o n , f o r without i t she would have very l i t t l e to do and t h i s would be unbearable to her (where-as to Murphy and perhaps Estragon, Lucky, and Glov i t would mean complete freedom.) In other words, her strategy of waiting depends on her b e l i e f i n the external world. Winnie i s forced to cope with an absolute s i t u a t i o n : a "world without end" and time without end, which f o r a l l p r a c t i c a l purposes, i s the same thing as an eternal present. Here, as she says, nothing changes, and i n the context of complete strangeness nothing i s or can be remarkable, and consequently Winnie finds no truth i n r e l a t i v e concepts: Did I ever know a temperate time? (Pause.) No. (Pause.) I speak of temperate times and t o r r i d times, they are empty words. (Pause.) I speak of when I was not yet c a u g h t — i n t h i s way — a n d had my legs and the use of my legs, 85. and could seek out a shady place, l i k e you, when I was t i r e d of the sun, or a sunny place when I was t i r e d of the shade, and they are empty words. (Pause.) I t i s no hotter today than yesterday, i t w i l l he no hotter tomorrow than today, how could i t , and so on hack into the g fa r past, and forward into the f a r future. Por t h i s reason Winnie speaks of a l l r e l a t i v e time concepts such as today, yesterday, days "going by" (that i s , the movement of time), and even dying, as being i n the "old s t y l e . " 9 This phrase, one of the chief thematic l e i t m o t i f s i n the play, i s p a r t i c u l a r l y d i a b o l i c a l as Winnie t r i e s to govern her a c t i v i t i e s according to t h i s endless time with i t s a r b i t r a r y d i v i s i o n s — n o t knowing when the b e l l f o r sleep w i l l come and desperately a f r a i d that she w i l l f i n d herself " l e f t , with hours s t i l l to run, before the b e l l f o r sleep, 10 and nothing more to say, nothing more to do ...." Con-sequently, Winnie i s always on the a l e r t and happily ready to improvise with anything that comes into her head. Winnie therefore speaks of her "happy day" i n the future perfect tense, or she says that the day has been happy "so 11 f a r " — s h e s t i l l has the res t of i t to get through. She cannot measure her progress toward the b e l l f o r sleep because of her immobility—motion i n time as well as i n space i s de-pendent upon change, and to her nothing changes, and f o r t h i s reason she i s waiting, l i k e the r e s t of Beckett's characters, fo r the end which can never come. In t h i s impossible s i t u a t i o n Winnie i s constantly on the 86 brink of collapse and she must constantly renew her e f f o r t s to shut out pain and unhappiness, or at l e a s t to overcome them by adapting he r s e l f and her strategies as they a r i s e . There are many p i t f a l l s : things have a way of running out (her toothpaste, p a i n k i l l e r , and l i p s t i c k ) because they be-long to the objective world and the "old s t y l e , " as do her n a i l s , teeth, and eyes; the odd unhappy thought or memory 12 w i l l " f l o a t up out of the blue," es p e c i a l l y thoughts about her former beauty and love l i f e , which, however, gradually become l e s s real': That day. (Pause.) The pink f i z z . (Pause.) The f l u t e glasses. (Pause.) The l a s t guest gone. (Pause.) The look. (Long pause.) What day? (Long pause.) What look? 1 3 and consequently l e s s p a i n f u l : Ah yes ... then ... now ... beechen green ... t h i s ... Charlie ... kisses ... t h i s ... a l l that ... deep trouble f o r the mind. (Pause.) But i t does not trouble mine. (Smile. ) Uot n o w . H The greatest change, of course, i s i n Winnie's r e l a t i o n to the earth—we see i t as a d e f i n i t e and dramatic change, but i t i s so gradual and unaccompanied by any change i n her-s e l f that she does not recognize i t as a change at a l l . To her the only r e a l i t y i s her present s i t u a t i o n , whether she i s buried up to her waist or neck there i s no truth i n any past s i t u a t i o n . Thus, i n the second act her breasts, arms, and legs do not exist and never have—what she can see exists and what she cannot see does not e x i s t — b u t she i n s i s t s that 87. W i l l i e does e x i s t , even though she, cannot see him. She can-not prove that W i l l i e himself ex is t s independently, but since he must e x i s t f o r her to t a l k to , she bel ieves he e x i s t s , and we conclude that he ex is t s i n her mind. Thus W i l l i e i s not subject to change because Winnie i s not , and because she can no longer use her grab bag as a strategy, W i l l i e i s now more important and therefore more " r e a l " than when she could see him. This leads us then, to the only consistent explanation of W i l l i e ' s appearance at the end of the p l a y . Since there i s no i n d i c a t i o n whatever that the i n i t i a t i v e came from W i l l i e h i m s e l f , we must conclude that he appears because she wants him to—love has triumphed—but t h i s i s not love be-tween subject and object , but between Winnie and her c r e a t i o n . As Winnie approaches the end, her s t ra tegies thus be-come more subject ive i n r e l a t i o n to her decreasing contact with the external wor ld : her l a s t s trategy, "when a l l else 1 5 f a i l s , " J being her story t o l d to the omnipresent W i l l i e . In the f i r s t act her s t ra tegies are adapted to the p o s s i b -i l i t i e s l e f t open to h e r : she makes a game of the objects i n her bag, prolonging her examination and use of each object so that i t w i l l take up as much time as p o s s i b l e before turning to something e l s e , and a l l the time employing a bar-rage of words to f i l l the gaps. She even has self - imposed r u l e s f o r these l i t t l e games: she must not take o f f her hat 16 17 once i t i s on, she must not s i n g her song "too e a r l y , " ' and above a l l she must not use up a l l of the things i n her 88 bag nor her store of words—her Mtwo l i g h t s " — t o o soon. In the second act the p o s s i b i l i t i e s have been d r a s t i c a l l y reduced, hut t h i s makes no basic difference to her. She makes a game of those objects she can s t i l l see and then she turns to her story and W i l l i e . Winnie's re l a t i o n s h i p to W i l l i e thus becomes the most important development i n the strategies of waiting to t h i s point. I t i s a development linked to subjective awareness and art, however, and not a change i n Beckett's attitude toward the conditions governing the subject-object r e l a t i o n s h i p , which, as f a r as the drama at l e a s t i s concerned, has not changed since Proust. The re s t of Happy Bays i s very si m i l a r to the e a r l i e r plays. While the ever present Brownie i s a comfort to Winnie, the idea of suicide, as i n Waiting f o r Godot, i s employed as a strategy and not as a permanent escape. The i m p o s s i b i l i t y of escape, as mentioned above, i s maintained by the goad: the b e l l f o r waking which rings every time she t r i e s to blot out consciousness when i t i s not time f o r sleep (a "wonderful 1 q . g i f t " ^ she does not possess), and the b e l l f o r sleep which i s always ahead of her. S i g n i f i c a n t l y , we never hear the b e l l f o r sleep, as the curtain f a l l s before i t rings, and consequently i t i s always something waited f o r , just as Godot i s . This goad, l i k e the others i n Beckett's plays, has no r a t i o n a l i t y behind i t s a c t i o n — i t simply belongs to a hypo-t h e t i c a l sphere beyond the reach of human reason—and Winnie's strategies are correspondingly improvised but r a t i o n -89 a l l y oriented games played to pass the time. Once again Beckett's use of pauses i n r e l a t i o n to thought and "weak" points i s used as a s t r u c t u r a l device em-phasizing the weight of time, and the struggles to f i l l i t emphasized hy the f l u r r i e s of words and a c t i v i t i e s . Since Winnie must redouble her e f f o r t s i n proportion to the de-crease i n the p o s s i b i l i t i e s l e f t open to her, t h i s increase i n e f f o r t underlines the endless amount of time ahead of her i n spite of the f a c t that the second act i s r e l a t i v e l y short by clock time. F i n a l l y , Winnie, who has very few legitimate words at her disposal, repeats them over and over again, and these r e p e t i t i o n s form the network of thematic l e i t m o t i f s which gather meaning and become l e s s funny as they progress through to the end of the play. This es p e c i a l l y applies to 20 such phrases as "the old s t y l e , " "that i s what I f i n d so 21 22 wonderful," "this w i l l have been another happy day," and "many mercies" J — e a c h phrase gathering irony as i t becomes clea r exactly how true they are, the opposite to what we f e l t at the opening of the play. In conclusion, we should note that while i n Waiting f o r Godot i t i s remarkable that the "change" from the f i r s t to the second act i s so s l i g h t , i n Happy Days the "change" i s so great that i t i s remarkable that i t makes no essential difference. Winnie must continue to wait f o r the end, and W i l l i e w i l l always be there for her to talk to. However, t h i s does not mean that she has won the game against time, 90 f o r the s i t u a t i o n a t the very end of the p l a y i s e l e a r l y stalemates W i l l i e cannot reach Winnie and she cannot f o r e him t o . On the p o s i t i v e s i d e , W i n n i e ' s b e l i e f i n W i l l i e -her f a i t h i n h i s ex i s tence—has almost r e s u l t e d i n u n i o n . The female has succeeded where the men f a i l e d . 91 CHAPTER FIVE—NOTES 1 Samuel Beckett, Happy Days (New York: Grove, 1961), p. 20. 2 I b i d . , p. 10. 3IMd., p. 31. 4 I b i d . , p. 50. 5 I b i d . , p. 40. 6 I b i d . , p. 51. 7 I b i d . , p. 8. 8 I b i d . , p. 38. 9 I b i d . , f o r example, p. 13, p. 18, p. 22, p. 32, p. 44. 1 0 I b i d . , p. 35. 1 1 I b i d . , f o r example, p. 34, p. 48, p. 62, p. 64. 1 2 I b i d . , p. 20. l 5 I b i d . , p. 60. U I b i d . , p. 51. l 5 I b i d . , p. 54. 1 6 I b i d . , p. 23. 1 7 I b i d . , p. 32. 1 8 I b i d . , pp. 36-37. l 9 I b i d . , p. 12. 2 0 I b i d . , f o r example, p. 13, p. 18, p. 42, p. 50, p. 53. 2 l I b i d . , f o r example, p. 18, p. 24, p. 39, p. 49, p. 56, p. 58. 2 2 I b i d . , f o r example, p. 40, p. 48, p. 64. 2 3 I b i d . , f o r example, p. 12, p. 58. 92 CONCLUSION The most important factor common to the four plays we have examined, I f e e l , i s the quality of time experienced by those who wait--in so f a r as i t a f f e c t s t h e i r a c t i v i t i e s . In each play the characters f e e l and act as though they are caught i n an endless present: i n t h e i r situations they f e e l eut o f f from t h e i r past and at the same time they cannot plan and project t h e i r a c t i v i t i e s toward a known goal, f o r the future i s completely uncertain. (Of a l l the characters Win-nie i s the only one who t r i e s to economize her a c t i v i t i e s so that she w i l l not be caught with hours l e f t and nothing to do, but even Winnie does-not pretend that she can i n any way control the future through planned action.) Similarly, a l -though time does have an ef f e c t on t h e i r bodies, thus l i m i t i n g the scope of possible a c t i v i t y , t h i s e f f e c t i s unnoticed by those who wait i n the sense that they do not recognize t h e i r various ailments as the products of aging. Vladimir and Es-tragon are aware of change i n others, but do not recognize a corresponding change i n themselves; Hamm and Clov try to f i n d some evidence of change—that i s , progress toward the end— but the indicat i o n s they f i n d are so s l i g h t that they are immaterial? Krapp i s so divorced from h i s past that he cannot recognize h i s former s e l f ; and Winnie maintains that her 93 present condition i s the same as i t has always been. Con-sequently, aside from those moments when the characters have no e f f e c t i v e control over t h e i r actions, and aside from those actions governed by some form of necessity, everything they do during the course of the plays i s done simply to f i l l the enormous void of time. When these a c t i v i t i e s are considered separately, we can conclude that each conforms to the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of play as defined by H u i z i n g a — a t l e a s t to the extent that each a c t i v -i t y has a p l a y - l i k e q u a l i t y . In the f i r s t place, each a c t i v -i t y i s a thing unto i t s e l f i n that i t i s neither conditioned by any preceding a c t i v i t y , nor the cause of any subsequent a c t i v i t y , and consequently each a c t i v i t y i s free of necessity as f a r as i t s content i s concerned. Secondly, the i n t e r n a l structure of each a c t i v i t y also has an order of i t s own by vi r t u e of t h i s independence i n that i t has a beginning, middle, and end. The middle, i s the part containing the "rules" of the a c t i v i t y , but these rules are improvised as the a c t i v i t y progresses, they are not agreed upon or formul-ated beforehand, and consequently the rules of one a c t i v i t y u sually d i f f e r from those of other a c t i v i t i e s . Rather, unity among these diverse a c t i v i t i e s i s achieved through thematic means: each a c t i v i t y shares a common impulse (to f i l l the void) and objective (to l a s t as long as possi b l e ) . F i n a l l y , since each a c t i v i t y must come to an end, the plays (which a f t e r a l l are merely segments taken from the l i v e s of the 94. characters) must end i n c o n c l u s i v e l y — t h e characters are waiting just as much as they were at the beginning. We can safely predict, therefore, that i f any of the plays we have examined were extended, the characters would continue to act as though they were waiting f o r someone or something and that while waiting they would devise s i m i l a r a c t i v i t i e s . In other words, these characters are creatures of habit as Beckett uses the term i n Proust, and at t h i s point h i s statement bears repeating: Habit i s a compromise effected between the i n d i v i d u a l and h i s environment, or between the i n d i v i d u a l and h i s own organic eccentric-i t i e s , the guarantee of a d u l l i n v i o l a b i l i t y l i f e i s a succession of habits, since the i n d i v i d u a l i s a succession of i n d i v i d u a l s ; the world being a projection of the i n d i v -idual's consciousness, the pact must be continually renewed....1 The a c t i v i t i e s of the characters, or t h e i r strategies of waiting, therefore, are habitual responses to the r e a l i t y of t h e i r e x i s t e n c e — s t r a t e g i e s to f i l l the void which surrounds them during moments of r e s t . However, since any a c t i v i t y governed by habit cannot be completely free, the strategies of waiting are not purely play. The play element as such enters once the p a r t i c u l a r a c t i v i t y has begun—the characters are free to prolong the a c t i v i t y and improvise on i t s elements as Clov does, f o r example, when he looks out the window with the telescope; and they are free to choose among a number of p o s s i b i l i t i e s as Winnie chooses a r t i c l e s from her bag. 95 Beckett's three l a t e r plays are not simply re p e t i t i o n s of Waiting f o r Godot, however, f o r when the plays are com-pared certain important differences are noticeable. While both Murphy and Watt are concerned with r e l a t i v e l y young men (roughly t h i r t y ) and t h e i r i n a b i l i t y to reconcile themselves with the external world and other people, Waiting f o r Godot i s concerned with characters who have passed middle age and who have therefore entered the long, tedious, and pai n f u l process of deterioration leading to death. As indicated by the country road where they wait, these characters have with-drawn from society, at l e a s t to the extent that t h e i r contact with other people (Pozzo and Lucky) i s both sporadic and tenuous. Vladimir and Estragon are a homosexual couple l i v i n g i n a world of t h e i r own and sinee each i s unable to . avoid the presence of the other, t h e i r a c t i v i t i e s are based on t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p — c o - o p e r a t i v e discussions alternate with b i t t e r quarrels. However, since the t i e s which bind them together are stronger than the differences which drive them apart, and since they must both wait f o r Godot, t h e i r quarrels are usually s h o r t - l i v e d and they manage to pass the time with a minimum of pain. Endgame portrays the problems of human relat i o n s h i p and waiting from an e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t point of view. In the f i r s t place, Hamm i s older and less mobile than either Vlad-imir or Estragon. Secondly, Hamm completely dominates Clov, however r e b e l l i o u s Clov might be. Their rel a t i o n s h i p i s thus 96 closer to a master-servant or father-son r e l a t i o n s h i p , and consequently the strategies i n t h i s play r e f l e c t Hamm's dom-ina t i o n over Glov and h i s e g o t i s t i c a l concern f o r himself, as well as th e i r c o n f l i c t of i n t e r e s t s . With the focus on Hamm, therefore, i t i s not surprising that the nature of the action i n Endgame i s more u n i f i e d than i t i s i n Waiting for Godot, The hulk of the play i s r e a l l y one long strategy directed by Hamm and carri e d out with the a i d of Clov, That i t i s a strategy i s made obvious by the inconclusive ending and by the consciousness of the characters that they are playing the endgame. Prom t h i s point of view the various a c t i v i t i e s can be considered as loosely connected stages i n the endgame. In Krapp*s Last Tape the point of view has s h i f t e d once again from human relationships to the s o l i t a r y figure who employs excerpts from h i s past i n an e f f o r t to dispe l lone-l i n e s s , boredom, and a sense of the f u t i l i t y of h i s l i f e . The structure of t h i s play and consequently the strategies of waiting, are based on a "dialogue" between the present and the past, but as we have seen, no dialogue i s possible. In addition, Krapp has nothing l e f t to record f o r the future as a r e s u l t of the process of withdrawal from the world around him, but he has l i f e l e f t . In Happy Pays Beckett once again deals with a human r e l -ationship, but t h i s time i t i s demonstrated that the s t r a t -egies of waiting do not depend on either co-operation or true dialogue, but on Winnie's a b i l i t y to believe i n W i l l i e * s ex-i 97. istence i n spite of a lack of evidence to prove that he does exist, and t h i s a b i l i t y enables her to continue to invent things to talk a b o u t — i n other words, she has an audience. In summary, I f e e l that action i n Beckett's plays i s conditioned by two fundamental f a c t o r s J the subject-object dichotomy, or the r e l a t i o n between the i n d i v i d u a l , the world, and other people; and death, the one event i n human l i f e which i s certain, but not fi x e d . He has portrayed these factors from d i f f e r e n t points of view and from youth to old age. In youth the confrontation between the s e l f and the external world i s emphasized and i t takes the form of a lack of communication between the two and a desire to re t r e a t on the part of the s e l f . In middle age human relationships are emphasized, with death as a remote factor. This takes the form of an armed t r u c e — a more or l e s s antagonistic r e l a t i o n -ship: man must co-operate because he cannot escape the society of others, but t h i s co-operation i s necessarily a r t -i f i c i a l . In old age the s e l f , as a r e s u l t of increasing im-mobility, loses contact with the external world and others, and the wait for death i s emphasized. In t h i s case, a c t i o n — or the strategies of waiting—takes the form of an i n t e r i o r monologue. This development i s p a r a l l e l e d by a str u c t u r a l movement toward an increased emphasis on physical movement and dialogue. Beckett thus portrays the fundamental i s o l a t i o n of mod-ern western man—the tragicomedy of individualism. Cut o f f 98, from others and time, man's h a b i t u a l response to l i f e and the e x t e r n a l world has been to devise s t r a t e g i e s of w a i t i n g f o r the time when i t w i l l a l l come to an end, and t h i s has r e s u l t e d i n a stalemate. This i n i t s e l f , however, i s a r e -markable achievement, c o n s i d e r i n g the nature of the s t r u g g l e , and to t h i s extent Beckett i s f i n a l l y o p t i m i s t i c : man has an i n c r e d i b l e a b i l i t y to cope w i t h h i s predicament. 99. CONCLUSION—NOTES Samuel Beckett, Proust (New York: Grove, 1957), p. 7. 1G0 BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary Sources: Beckett, Samuel. Eh Joe. London, Faber and Faber, 1967. (Includes Act Without Words II and Film.) : Endgame. New York, Grove, 1958. (Includes Act Without Words I.) . From an Abandoned Work. London, Faber and Faber, 1958. . Happy Pays. New York, Grove, 1961. . Krapp 1s Last Tape. New York, Grove, i960. (Includes A l l T h a t F a l l , BnbersT Act Without Words I, and Act Without Words II.) . Malone Pies. New York, Grove, 1956. . Molloy. New York, Grove, 1955. . Murphy. New York, Grove, 1957. . Play. London, Faber and Faber, 1964. . Poems i n English. London, Calder, 1961. . Proust. New York, Grove, 1957. . The Unnamable. New York, Grove, 1958. . Waiting f o r Godot. New York, Grove, 1954. — . Watt. New York, Grove, 1959. 101. Secondary Sources: Abel, L i o n e l . Metatheatre. New York, H i l l and Wang, 1963. Blau, Herbert. The Impossible Theatre. New York, Macmillan, 1965. Coe, Richard N. Beckett. London, Oliver and Boyd, 1964. (Writers and C r i t i c s Series.) Conn, Ruby, ed. Casebook on Waiting f o r Godot. New York, Grove, 1967. . Samuel Beckett: The Comic Gamut. New Jersey, Rutgers University Press, 1962. E s s l i n , Martin, ed. Samuel Beckett: A Col l e c t i o n of C r i t i c a l  Essays. New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1965. (Twentieth Cent-ury views Series.; . The Theatre of the Absurd. New York, Double-day, 1961. Federman, Raymond. Journey into Chaos: Samuel Beckett's  Early F i c t i o n . Berkeley, University of C a l i f o r n i a Press, 1965. Fowlie, Wallace. Dionysus i n Paris. New York, Meridian, i960. Grossvogel, David I. 20th Century French Drama. New York, Columbia University Press, 196«. Guthke, Karl S. Modern Tragicomedy. New York, Random House, 1966. . Hoffman, Frederick J. Samuel Beckett: The Language of Self. New York, E.P. Button, 1964. Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element i n Culture, trans, anon. Boston, Beacon, 1955. Jacobsen, Josephine and William R. Mueller. The Testament of  Samuel Beckett. New York, H i l l and Wang, 1964. Jones, W. T. A History of Western Philosophy. New York, Har-court Brace, 1952. Kenner, Hugh. Samuel Beckett: A C r i t i c a l Study. New York, Grove, I 9 6 L 102 MeLuhan, Marshall, Understanding Mediat The Extensions of  Man. Toronto, Hew American Library, 1966. Modern Drama. IX, ed. Ruby Cohn (December 1966). (Beckett issue.) Pronko, Leonard C. Avant-Garde. Los Angeles, University of C a l i f o r n i a Press, 1964. T i n d a l l , William York. Samuel Beckett. Kew York, Columbia University Press, I964I (Columbia Essays on Modern Writers, Pamphlet No. 4. 103 APPENDIX The following i s simply intended to i l l u s t r a t e i n a very-general and schematic way the complementary nature of some of Beckett's "couples," and t h e i r s i m i l a r i t y to the two proto-types: Murphy and Watt. Vladimir Acts as the protector and provider. Does the "thinking," i s more speculative; emot-i o n a l problems, dreams, etc. of Est. upset him. Rel a t i v e l y optimistic r e -garding a r r i v a l of Godot and what Godot can do f o r them; never forgets t h e i r reason f o r being there; i n s i s t s that they stay. Needs company: a partner to help pass the time, an audience to l i s t e n . I n i t i a t e s most games; the more v e r s a t i l e player, e s p e c i a l l y i n second act. Better memory f o r i n s i g -n i f i c a n t f a c t s regarding th e i r environment and s i t u a t i o n ; desperately t r i e s to accumulate and order data to prove reg-u l a r i t y of space and time —memory therefore imp-ortant. Active. B u l l i e s Estragon. Gregarious. Estragon Needs protection and sym-pathy. More emotional, i n t r o v e r t -ed; r a t i o n a l problems posed by Vladimir upset him. Very pessimistic regard-ing t h e i r whole si t u a t i o n ; doubts Godot's value even i f he does come; has to be reminded that they must wait. Suggests that they should part; l i k e s to be l e f t alone. Reluctantly agrees to play games; not very imaginative. Remembers only what d i r -ectly a f f e c t s him, e.g., Lucky kicks him; nothing else i s worth remembering; space and time meaning-l e s s ; "nothing changes." Lazy. Submits. A n t i - s o c i a l . 104 Pozzo Acts as the protector and provider. Does the "thinking," i s more speculative; emot-io n a l problems upset him; makes the decisions; i n -sensit i v e to fe e l i n g s of others, who are objects. Optimistic regarding l i f e and h i s purpose; never forgets h i s schedule. Needs an audience and a partner to ensure purpose. Good memory; cli n g s to watch time. Very active. B u l l i e s Lucky. Gregarious. Hamm Acts as the protector and provider. Does most of the thinking; gives the orders; insen-s i t i v e to f e e l i n g s of others; egocentric. Confident i n h i s superior-i t y , but has l o s t i l l u s i o n s . Needs an audience and some-one to fe t c h f o r him. Talkative. B u l l i e s Clov. Lucky Needs protection f o r freedom. Introverted and h o s t i l e i f disturbed; has l o s t the a b i l i t y to think i n r a t i o n a l structures. F u l l y resigned to h i s r o l e ; never i n i t i a t e s ; waits f o r orders. Detached, but submissive. No memory disce r n i b l e . Inactive. Submits. A n t i - s o c i a l . Clov Needs protection, susten-ance. Introverted; obeys most of the orders. More or l e s s resigned to h i s r o l e , but r e b e l l i o u s . Has a d i s t r u s t of words; w i l l not speak unless he has to. Prefers to be in a c t i v e . P a r t i a l l y submits. 

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