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“Be Again”: Exploring the Trauma of Separation through the Physical in Krapp’s Last Tape

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dc.contributor.advisor Sherman, Debora Woodruff, Carolyn 2017-08-31T11:58:50Z 2017-08-31T11:58:50Z 2017
dc.description.abstract This essay deals with one of Samuel Beckett’s more narrative short plays, Krapp’s Last Tape. While many theorists have delved into the idea that Beckett’s plays belie a certain amount of difficulty and struggle when it comes to the attempt to narrativize, but this essay explores the ways in which this relates to the topics of psychoanalytic trauma, and extends this to a treatment of the body in the play. Drawing primarily from Cathy Caruth’s interpretations of Sigmund Freud’s writings on trauma in her work, Unclaimed Experience, and from Dominick LaCapra’s work with trauma in his article “Trauma, Absence, Loss,” I move towards understanding Krapp’s struggles with narrativity as a form of structural trauma experienced as the trauma of a lack of unity within his life and within his conception of his life story. Krapp’s continual re-narration of his life in the form of the tapes thus becomes understood as a physical representation of this trauma, which extends to the body as it is enacted on the stage. Moving from an understanding of the trauma present in the play, I work towards understanding how the movements of Krapp’s body onstage also constitute and represent this trauma, particularly the inherently repetitious nature of trauma. From this analysis, a new interpretation of the ending of the play emerges: that in his final confrontation with his past, Krapp comes to a sort of acceptance of death, which is a site of both extreme separation, but also a kind of resolution of this fear through the unity in finality.
dc.description.sponsorship Haverford College. Department of English
dc.language.iso eng
dc.subject.lcsh Beckett, Samuel, 1906-1989. Krapp's last tape
dc.subject.lcsh Beckett, Samuel, 1906-1989 -- Criticism and interpretation
dc.subject.lcsh Psychic trauma in literature
dc.title “Be Again”: Exploring the Trauma of Separation through the Physical in Krapp’s Last Tape
dc.type Thesis
dc.rights.access Open Access

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