Whatever happened, and when, to English tragic status? Two dramas must be discussed: Beckett ‘s Endgame and Granville Barkers Waste.
About all theories of play assume that with the coming of modernness, classical signifier of calamity are rendered irrelevant, a countenance of a past age. The dramatic plants of Samuel Beckett and Haley Granville-Barker, nevertheless, effort to consequence a metempsychosis of the pre-modern calamity within the universe of the modern status. Beckett’sEndgameand Granville-Barker’sWasteuse the Renaissance tradition of calamity, exemplified by Shakespeare’sHamlet,which focal point on the tragic fate of the lone adult male. Classical, or ‘high’ calamity evolved in a specific ideological and societal context with an accent on Godhead domination and keeping the societal order, and hence its diminution in the modern age is coexisting with the dislocation of power dealingss between persons and the Godhead, and between the province and the labor.
Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, like Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, uses the drama of Hamlet to research and pull strings the conventions of high calamity. ‘Finished, it’s finished, about finished, it must be about finished’ says Clov at the beginning of Beckett’s Endgame. Hamm stirs, and says ‘Can at that place be wretchedness – he yawns – loftier than mine? ’ ( Beckett As John Spurling has commented, the words bring up the tragic traditions of Hamlet, Oedipus king, King Lear and Phedre. Hamm belongs to this long line of tragic heroes, as made clear by the derivation of his name from that of Hamlet. ‘Can at that place be misery – loftier than mine? ’ Hamm continues: ‘No uncertainty. Once. But now? ’ Hamm appears to be oppugning non merely his ain function as a tragic figure, but the function of calamity in the modern universe. Joseph Wood Krutch has said that ‘tragedies, in that lone sense of the word which has any typical significance, are no longer written in either the dramatic or any other form’ ( Krutch 81 ) , and George Steiner traces the death of calamity to the loss of the fabulous and symbolic mention which shaped the fatalistic existences of Hamlet or Oedipus. Endgame demands comparing with the traditional Renaissance Shakespearean calamity, uncovering that, although the universal system which pre-ordains the tragic hero’s death is no longer in topographic point, the action remains the same.
Jean Anouilh has described the conventional sequence of the calamity: ‘The machine is in perfect order ; it has been oiled of all time since clip began, and it runs without clash … In calamity, nil is in uncertainty and everyone’s fate is known. That makes for tranquility … Tragedy is reposeful ; and the ground is that hope, that foul, fallacious thing, has no portion in it. There isn’t any hope. You’re trapped’ ( Anouilh 34-5 ) . Harmonizing to the Aristotlean theory of calamity, the drama opens at the point when the action is about complete, and already in a fixed way. It is this thought that the tragic action must be complete which leads to the impression of calamity as a ‘machine … in perfect order.’ Clov’s gap statement that ‘It’s finished … it must be about finished’ can be read as a comment on the drama itself, in which the action is ‘nearly finished’ before it even begins. However, this comment can be farther read as Beckett’s remark on the tradition of calamity: this is to be the ‘end game’ , the concluding merchandise of the tragic machine.
Hamm and Clov, the tragic heroes of Endgame, are witting of themselves as tragic characters. The audience sees no more of the universe of the drama than Hamm’s room, and for him the phase is his world. ‘What is at that place to maintain me here? –The dialogue’ he says, uncovering an consciousness of the drama as drama, and hence a pre-scripted and irreversible action. Indeed, the action of the drama itself represents Hamm’s concluding uncertainnesss before give uping to the ultimate destiny of the tragic hero. Whereas in Hamlet the tragic hero suffers within his ain subjective universe, in Endgame Hamm is to the full cognizant of his ain public presentation and the audience sees merely Hamm’s subjective vision.
Harley Granville-Barker’s Waste, written in 1906 and banned before its first public public presentation, offers the modern audience an experience of calamity emptied of tragic significance. The anti-hero, the upstanding and passionate Henry Trebell, represents a contradiction between the exalted ethical motives of his political calling and his immoral and passionless private matter. Indeed, Trebell’s merely passion is a measure to disestablish the Church of England, an effort to upstage the lifting Labour party. In the face of the resulting dirt over Trebell’s matter and Amy O’Connell’s tragic decease, the Conservative party interruptions all ties with Trebell, go forthing him without intent or connexion. Granville-barker can be seen in his character Henry Trebell. Trebell’s political ruin and decease are caused by a fleeting folly, a seduction, and his life is a ‘waste’ . It can be said that, in a manner, each tragic hero are facets of the playwright himself, as Hamlet was of Shakespeare, and Granville-Barker dramatised himself in order to research his ain feelings of personal waste. The accent throughout the drama is on the political state of affairs instead than the personal matter, and it is clear that Trebell’s destiny is sealed from the minute of his matter.
Essif has said that ‘Samuel Beckett … devoted the ulterior portion of his artistic calling to researching and polishing the stuff meaningfulness of the [ lone ] human figure set in emptiness’ ( 1 ) . Endgame and Waste stand for a cosmic vision of desperation and palsy which echoes Hamlet’s ageless inquiry, ‘To be or non to be’ . Hamm and Trebell, nevertheless, are cognizant of their status as tragic figures and accept their destiny without inquiry. Beckett and Granville-Barker use the tradition of the English calamity to research the status of the lone adult male in the modern universe, stating us, in the words of Godot, ‘Nothing is to be done’ .
Anouilh, J. ( 1975 )Antigoneerectile dysfunction. by W.M. Landers. London: Harrap.
Beckett, S. ( 1964 )Endgame. London: Faber.
Essif, L. ( 2001 )Empty figure on an empty phase: the theater of Samuel Beckett and his coevals. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press.
Fletcher, J. and Spurling, J. ( 1985 )Beckett the dramatist,London: Menthuen
Krutch, J.W. ( 1956 )The modern pique.London: Jonathan Cape.
Steiner, G. ( 2004 ) Tragedy, reconsidered,New Literary History, 35:1-15.