Odds : reflections and directions; a thematic study of four plays by Samuel Beckett
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The thesis makes a thematic study of by Samuel Beckett consisting of Theatre I (1956), Theatre II (1958), Radio I (1961) and Radio II (1962). All were unpublished until 1973 or later. Concentrating on the plays written between 1948 and 1963, Chapter One briefly presents the major themes of Beckett's drama. Chapter Two places Theatre I and II within the thematic progression revealed by the first chapter. After more detailed treatment of Beckett's use of the radio medium, Chapter Three examines Radio I and II. It locates their chronological and thematic position among the radio plays, and uses them to reinforce claims made concerning the particular thematic developments that have taken place during the growth of Beckett's radio drama. The thesis concludes with a short discussion of the highly derivative nature of some among the four plays, and suggests reasons for their not having been published until recently. The thesis shows how the transition from the prose writings of the 1940’s to the stage plays of the 1950's led to works whose major concern was the general human condition, presented in a more obviously external frame of reference, within the plays. The stage plays Theatre I and II are examined in close conjunction with two of the major works of the decade - Endgame and Krapp’s Last Tape. Discussion of all the radio plays, including Radio I and II and Chapter Three shows how through the radio medium Beckett returned to the internalized universe and artistic concerns of the prose written prior to 1950, but in an effectively dramatized form. Overall, the examination of these little-known plays, in the context of general thematic development in Beckett's drama, provides particular insight into the different thematic possibilities of differing genres and media in Beckett's work.