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'silence Is Pouring Into This Play Like Water Into A Sinking Ship' (Samuel Beckett On Waiting For Godot). Discuss 'silence' And Sub Texts In Modern Drama

1626 words - 7 pages

Constantin Stanivslaski defined subtext as,"The manifest, the inwardly felt expression of a human being in part, which flows uninterruptedly beneath the words of a text, giving them life and a basis for existing."The Russian practitioner was a major pioneer in modern theatre and here describes perfectly how the real humanity is found beneath the language. The technique began with naturalist sub-text, as found in Chekhov, but is evident even in the unnaturalistic plays of Beckett, and is later developed by Pinter. The depth of language permeates both generations of theatre. Their use of sub-text infiltrates the dialogue whilst silences add to the dramatic tension and underlying meaning of the plays. Each dramatist uses both techniques to serve their individual purposes, which I will explore in this essay.The feelings of inertia and waiting for life, infiltrates much of Beckett's drama and is also evident in Chekhov's Three Sisters. The family dream of moving to Moscow but are waiting for something that will never happen. They are left to pass the time, like in Beckett's plays, Waiting for Godot and Endgame. There are invisible barriers trapping them with, "speech without consequence [and] reflecting action without conclusion." Beneath the meaningless chattering of Chekhov's characters here, lies the dreadful realization of their fate:"Olga:The only thing that grows…is one singleDream…Irina:To go to Moscow. To sell up the house, to finish with everything here, and off to Moscow…Olga:Yes! To Moscow, as soon as ever we can."A forced gaiety in most of Chekhov's characters mask an awareness of abandonment. These empty expressions of hopes and ambitions can be compared to Beckett as he too communicates the absence of communication and truth within language. A problem that even he anticipates:"More and more my own language appears to me like a veil that must be torn apart in order to get at the things (or the nothingness) behind it."Beckett tears apart the veil through the disparity of language and action. The nullity is most famously expressed through the poignantly hopeless words and telling paralysis at the end of every act of Waiting for Godot. "Well, shall we go?" asks Estragon in the first act and Vladamir in the second. "Yes, let's go" replies the other. The meaningless and emptiness of truth behind their words is made clear as the stage directions denies them their escape as "(They do not move)." Both Chekhov and Beckett's characters continue to hope unrealistically, "for a better world just over the hill"'Pinter's drama is another world where words hide truths. He is sympathetic to the notion that " people fall back on anything they can lay their hands on verbally to keep away from the danger of knowing, and of being known." Meg enforces such a defensive barrier through the arbitrariness of words and the repetition and emptiness within them. Her husband is complicit and as Meg cheerfully chatters away asking monotonous and...

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