Samuel Beckett as Dramatist/Playwright
Samuel Beckett is famous for creating new kind of plays. He experimented with the stage and blew new soul in it. His plays are completely different from the tradition. Mostly, dramatist of his era focused on the action of play. Thus, action was the vital element of every drama. Samuel Beckett ignored the concept of action. He proved that there can be a drama without action. There is no action in his play even then audience feels pleasure in watching them. He added the theme of boredom in his plays. His plays are not just watched but experienced. Audience needs to know the deep meaning of every dialogue of the play. Every word and dialogue is full of symbols, therefore, more knowledge is required to understand them. Moreover, audience has to feel his plays instead of just watching them. It was a new experience for the audience to watch such type of dramas on stage. Samuel Beckett got fame by doing so. He is still remembered because of his contribution to theater. He enlarged the scope of theater, therefore, his contribution, in this context, can never be underestimated.
Samuel Beckett’s plays lack plot and characterization; there is no story in them. He is not a storyteller nor has he has any experience in sketching characters. Focus of the audience remains on characters and story of the play but Samuel Beckett skips these two important ingredients of a play. Hardly, we know any character of Beckett’s play, whom we identify by his actions. He does not reveal their real identity. Many playwrights have gotten fame due to their art of characterization but Beckett is famous for hiding identity of his characters. Moreover, there is no plot development in Beckett’s plays. They start with a problem and ends with the same. “Waiting for Godot” is remarkable example of it. We see Estragon and Vladimir standing and talking on the stage without doing anything. Only delivery of dialogues can be seen on the stage. Nothing else is available in the play. The meaning and interest of the play lies in its dialogues. In act-I we find them standing near a tree; in act-ii we find no movement in their position; the play goes on like this and ultimately ends with the same situation. Hence, there is no plot in the play. No one can figure out the story of “Waiting for Godot”. It is just about a situation. Similarly, we don’t know the background of Estragon and Vladimir. Both are not completely introduced to us; very less introduction of these characters has been given in this play. Thus, it is an entirely new concept of writing plays without plot and characterization.
Becket’s language is very much interesting. He uses simple language in his plays. Hardly, any useful line can be found in them. There may be very rational and symbolic dialogues yet they apparently do not seem useful. Every word is a symbol, therefore, great attention is required to dig their meaning. Beckett’s use of language is absurd. He does not define meanings of dialogues; rather it depends on the audience how it perceives the meaning of a dialogue. Furthermore, except speeches, dialogues of the play are short. It seems that characters are not giving any message to audience but passing time while talking to each other. Dialogues of the plays are argumentative. In “Waiting for Godot” both major characters pass the ball. They talk but most of the time their dialogues have no meaning in them. Most of the time, dialogues do not serve any purpose. Numerous dialogues are there in the play that were not necessary. Some words of the play have been created by the dramatist himself; there are some words in the play which are not available even in dictionary. Hence, Beckett’s language is somewhat unique. His plays are rational but language and behavior of characters is irrational. Moreover, Samuel Beckett uses uncivilized language as evident from “Waiting for Godot”.
He presents reality in his plays. There is no fancy word in them. He likes to depict life, which is reality. In fact, realism is the fundamental ingredient of his plays. He remains close to reality while describing any situation. Again, example of “Waiting for Godot” is in front of us. Entire play shows the reality of life. It shows a situation viz. waiting. Characters come on stage and portray the reality of life. Even themes of the play are real. Hope, death, boredom and pessimism are part of life. Thus, Beckett’s plays are entirely about reality.
Beckett presents pessimistic themes; there is very less hope in his plays. In fact, every play that belongs to theater of absurd has this common theme in it. As mentioned above, Beckett presents reality; pessimism is also a reality; it is part of life; therefore, Beckett’s approach in most of his plays is pessimistic. For instance, every act of “Waiting for Godot” ends with despair. Eventually, the play itself ends with hopelessness.
There is also an element of complexity in his plays. He does not make anything clear. In “Waiting for Godot”, we don’t know who is Godot. From start of the play, the audience along with the characters waits for Godot but till end they cannot see him. Samuel Beckett ignores the concept of clarity. He has nothing to do with lucidity. Meanings of his plays are entirely dependent on rationality of the audience. In “Waiting for Godot”, it depends on audience how it perceives the meaning of Godot. Samuel Beckett himself has also no acquaintance with Godot. In an interview, when he was asked; “who is Godot”. He replied; if I knew I would have told it in my play. Thus, element of complexity is also there in Samuel Beckett’s plays.
In a nutshell, Samuel Beckett is an innovator. He wrote dramas which could not even be imagined by a prudent mind. He did not only write them but made them successful. The audience witnesses a lesson on the stage instead of a story. His plays involve the eyes, the ears, the intellect, the emotions, all at once, may be described as “total theater”.