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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Beckett & the Impossibility of Mastery: An Analysis of Agency and Control in Samuel Beckett’s Dramatic Works
by Donabella, Micaela, M.A., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2020, 58; 27737114
Abstract (Summary)

While Samuel Beckett did not explicitly comment on politics in his dramatic works, the personal essays he crafted during the beginning of his career, as well as his work as a translator, corroborate the assumption that he was a man with political interests, and found subtle ways to advocate justice where he felt it lacked (Morin 159). Though Beckett did not wish for an examination of his personal life to become synonymous with an interpretation of his art, his political and sociocultural exposures make the potential connotations of his dramatic works all the richer and more varied. Instead of using his background and political affiliations to limit interpretations of his dramatic works to his life alone, or to one ideology, one might perhaps explore the methods of subjugation that recur in his works and how they transcend ideology. His plays would never be about his background alone, but as he was witness to the formation of the Irish Free State, Nazi Germany and its effect on France, unrest during World War II, the Algerian War of Independence, and censorship—on many fronts—his experiences and intellectual correspondences certainly provided fodder for political commentary, however discreet (Morin 159). This thesis will avoid metaphysical interpretations to examine how Beckett’s dramatic works might comment on deception and exploitation in the real or actual, and thus will attempt to see Beckett’s stage as a metonym for the world. Of interest will be topics identity, responsibility, representation, and right to representation and/or expression. It will examine how Beckett’s protagonists represent the individual under subjugation; how the condition of his audiences represents the responsibility and/or complicity of the general public in systems of inequality; how procedures and tactics of mastery deployed by his antagonists serve as allegory for domination in the world; and the means by which contemporary directors might reimagine Beckett, in light of the claim inherent in his works that artistic representation always fails to serve its intended signified in totality.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Keane, Damien
School: State University of New York at Buffalo
Department: English
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: MAI 81/8(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: British and Irish literature
Keywords: Agency, Indivdiual, Mastery, Representation, Beckett, Samuel
Publication Number: 27737114
ISBN: 9781658422529
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