Krapp In Krapp?s Last Tape Essay, Research Paper
by Samuel Beckett
During the course of our lives, we tend to look back on our past. We remember the good times and the bad times. But sometimes, the past is something we don?t want to go back to. In Krapp?s Last Tape, Krapp is an old man who looks back on his life and concludes that he wouldn?t want those years back.
Krapp is an old man who looks back on his life. Beckett describes him as a man with ?rusty black narrow trousers, too short and a surprising pair of dirty white boots, size 10 at least, very narrow and pointed?(1696). Since Krapp is an odd person Mayoux says he is the ?last of Beckett?s clowns?(42). He looks back on his life by listening to tapes he made every year on his birthday. During the play, Krapp spends much of his time sitting at a desk with a tape recorder listening to his younger self talk. He reacts with a little grief to the man he was thirty years before. The tape that he made on his thirty-ninth birthday not only embarrasses him but also mystifies him. The tape also sweeps him back into bittersweet memories to the day his mother died and to a ?failed love affair, the girl, the boat on the sedgy lake?(Kilvert 58).
Many events bring Krapp to his conclusion, but one in particular is his love affair with the nurse. As Krapp is listening to the tape, he hears himself tell of the failed love affair. He describes the nurse as a beautiful woman, ?The face she had! The eyes! Like?chrysolite!?(1699). As the tape rolls on about his love, Krapp becomes angry with himself. He curses, fast forwards the tape, and turns it back on again and listens. Before the tape is finished, he rewinds the tape and plays back the part he missed. In that part of the tape he talks about how it would be no good for he and his love to go on, and she agrees, and then they lay there in each other?s arms. After the tape is finished, Krapp loads a new tape and begins to record. He critically reflects on who he was in the past and who he took himself for ?but is drawn to the conclusion that he would not want those years back now?(Fletcher and Jopling 177).
Esslin Martin said that the play depends upon ?the powerful visual image of a man listening to his own recorded voice with his reactions to his past personality?(Martin 45). In reading this play, I am reminded of Tennessee Williams? The Glass Menagerie. The characters of these plays let their pasts control their present lives. But Krapp sees who he was in the past and then realizes he would never want to go back.
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Fletcher, Steve and Norman Jopling. The Book of 1000 Plays. New York: Oxford, 1989,
Kilvert, Ian Scott. British Writers. Supplement I. New York: Scribners, 1987. 43-64
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