An Analysis of Samuel Beckett's "Play", Essays

An Analysis of Samuel Beckett's "Play", Essays

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Written in 1962-3, Play depicts three characters, a man (M), and two women (W1 and W2) trapped in urns with only their heads showing. These characters each present their own version of a love triangle, which once occurred between them. It becomes clear during the play that the characters, once tortured by each other, are now tortured by their situation. A spotlight acts as a "unique inquisitor," compelling each to speak when it shines on them, and to stop when it goes out. As this assault continues, the characters become increasingly maddened by the light, and increasingly desperate to make it stop. The play repeats itself, providing the audience with a sense that these characters have been saying the same words for an eternity, and will continue to do so until the light decides they can stop. Beckett demonstrates how "A style of living, theatrically communicable, is used to express a state of mind."

The characters begin telling the stories of their life, and how the love triangle affected them. The language is colourful, although filled with bitterness, jealousy, and frustration. They each feel they have been tortured by the other two, and speak as if they are trying to justify their own actions towards the others. M is angry that he was caught, and that he admitted, saying, "Adulterers, take warning, never admit." He does not feel guilt for the adultery, but rather frustration at not being able to please both women. It appears that he accuses both women of playing with his emotions, rendering him unable to choose between them. Miller's The Ride Down Mount Morgan features the same displacement of guilt in Lyman's polygamous tale. In Play, W1, as the wife of M, feels she has been mistreated by M's adultery. She uses her ange...

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...3"> Ford, Boris, ed, The Pelican Guide to English Literature volume seven: The Modern Age, third edition, Penguin Books, Great Britain, 1973
  • Fraser, G.S., The Modern Writer and His World, Penguin Books Ltd, Great Britain, 1964
  • Jacobsen, Josephine and Mueller, William R., The Testament of Samuel Beckett, Faber and Faber Ltd., London, 1966
  • Lyons, Charles R., Samuel Beckett, The Macmillan Press, London, 1983
  • Ronsley, Joseph, ed., Myth and Reality in Irish Literature, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, Canada, 1977
  • Rosen, Steven J., Samuel Beckett and the Pessimistic Tradition, Rutgers University Press, U.S.A., 1976

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