Technology and Beckett’s Play, Krapp’s Last Tape

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Technology and Beckett’s Play, Krapp’s Last Tape

“bois seul bouffe brûle crêve seul comme devant les absents sont morts les présents puent sors tes yeux détourne-les sur les roseaux se taquinent-ils ou les aïs pas la peine il y a le vent et l’état de veille”[1][1] -Samuel Beckett, Untitled

As an avant-garde writer and a trend starter, Beckett was intensely in touch with his own time and its most significant realities, one of which being technological progress. In his play Krapp’s Last Tape, first performed in 1958, we meet yet another one of his spiritually crippled and disillusioned characters: Krapp, an old recluse. Krapp is alone on the stage, seconded only by a tape
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Like in Endgame, the main character has an accurate recollection of his past, but there is nothing left of it. Unlike 39 years old Krapp, 69 years old Krapp has no more expectation for his opus magnum and his “fire” is lost: “Nothing to say, not a squeak […] Seventeen copies sold, of which eleven at trade price to free circulating libraries beyond the seas”. Another similarity between Endgame and Krapp’s Last Tape is the terminal hopelessness of the characters. In Krapp’s Last Tape, the only significant event Krapp may hope for is his own personal death, in Endgame it is perhaps the end of the world; in both cases, memory does not restitute or create meaning. This notion is further emphasized in Krapp’s Last Tape, as the tape recorder does not even have the advantage of being vague. The audience is made fully aware of how real Krapp’s past has once been, and, implicitly, we are told that he had discovered some transcending meaning, a reason to give up everything, even his chance at happiness. Nonetheless, the machine leaves Krapp wilted, a mere husk, to whom even the benefit of waiting is denied because there is nothing to wait for. Krapp merely exists to exist; he is at one of the last stages of Death as a process. In the world of the existentialists were choice is deified, Krapp is godless and forsaken. In this sense, the machine becomes more of an instrument of torture, a constant reminder of the old Krapp’s helplessness as he contemplates how

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