Krapp's Last Tape and the Futility of Human Existence

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Question: Absurdist drama is often said to be a critique of the human existence, that the situation is often meaningless and absurd. Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape is a typical absurdist drama. How does Beckett, through the use of language, setting and the character Krapp, highlight the futility of the human existence in this particular drama? Absurdist drama originated in the 1950s and follows Albert Camus’s philosophy that the human situation is meaningless and absurd (Culik). As such, absurdist drama is, in a sense, absurd. It follows none of the typical rules of modern drama, and that is in fact its true intention, to go against the norm so as to surprise or shock readers out of their comfort zone, to force people to confront the…show more content…
With regards to the drama itself, reminiscence on the part of Krapp is a major theme. The audience is introduced to a total of three Krapps, all different from one another. Hence the audience is able to view each Krapp as being detached from one another, in an intense separation of self (Lagier). Sixty-nine year old Krapp listens to a tape made by his thirty-nine year old self, in which his thirty-nine year old self muses on his actions when he was twenty-nine. To deduce exactly what Krapp is reminiscing about, the audience must listen closely to the content of the narration, as well as the present day Krapp’s reactions to it. Twenty-nine year old Krapp, as recounted by his thirty-nine year old self, was living with a woman named Bianca, whom twenty-nine year old Krapp described as “hopeless business”. Thirty-nine year old Krapp derides his twenty-nine year old self for being “young whelp”, for making aspirations and resolutions like to drink less and to have a “less engrossing sexual life”. Thirty-nine year old Krapp believes that Bianca and the above resolutions are silly, for he “sneers at what he calls his youth and thanks to God that it’s over”. Twenty-nine year old Krapp then talks about the “shadow of the opus magnum”, which in essence belies his desire to be a great and successful writer, to publish an amazing and impressive piece of work that none will rival. This, thirty-nine year old Krapp appears to

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