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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 25 | volume V | March-April, 2002



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 25March-April, 2002
Theatre Theory

The Concept of Time and Space

in Beckett's Dramas Happy Days and Waiting for Godot

p. 1
Richard Frank

    Beckett avoids entrapment in clock time and physical space by blurring specifics in the background of the action. As the date of the appointment with Godot wobbles and the certainty of the characters recedes with the onset of anxiety and skepticism, the initial specificity of the appointment is dissolved into some universal temporality of 'meeting'.
    Beckett has no qualms about dealing with discrete pieces of times and places at the same time, fusing them into a heterogeneous scene in one comprehensive view. The viewpoint of the characters jumps from the present to a biblical past, and then jumps back to the present. The action moves from one place to another without any restriction. When several episodes with different historical backgrounds are juxtaposed in the same context, the particularity of individual episodes gives way to the neutralized universality of the situation. The whole action turns into an ahistorical miscellany of events, and an atemporal overview of the human condition.
    In Waiting for Godot the dramatist connects the humble life of the two tramps with the idea of Christian vigil, elevating the lowest form of life (humilitas) to the biblical dimension (sublimitas). While pretending to depict the most trivial type of life, Beckett evokes the noblest and holiest mode of being. On the realist stage there is the depth of time. In each scene we witness a moment in the history of the community presented in the work. When the curtain is raised, we assume that the place we see on the stage has been there before we see it and that it will continue to exist even as an imaginary society after the curtain goes down. In Beckett's drama the kind of community that we commonly experience in our daily life does not exist, and it is irrelevant and meaningless to try to trace the social origin of the characters or to evaluate their action in accordance with the dynamics of conventional dramaturgy. Beckett's characters and their world have no known history and no pre-established relationships among them (Lyons 130). His 'homeless' people have simply been thrown into a strange land without any preliminary explanation about their situation. They hardly recognize each other as members of the same community, nor know what to do with each other or the time given them. Beckett's scene operates in such a manner as to function in an endless present or in a spatial, temporal vacuum. The action is filled with questions, not with answers.
    In Act II of Waiting for Godot, Vladimir showers Pozzo with questions about their identity because Pozzo and Lucky look the same, and at the same time different.
    VLADIMIR: So it is he?
    POZZO: What?
    VLADIMIR: It is Lucky?

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