One Act PlayWords and Music by Beckett

Themes and Meanings in “Words and Music” by Samuel Beckett

3 Mins read

Apart from “Words and Music”, one key theme working by nearly all of Beckett’s work is that words alone seldom categorical the truth of human meaning. This is actually the case on this play. Considering that the music for this play just isn’t specified by Beckett however written anew for every production, the theme of randomness and problem in human communication comes by. The juxtaposition of meaning (words) and emotion (music) in human existence can be a theme that runs by this uncommon play.

Themes and Meanings in Words and Music

A. Alvarez has described Words and Music as;

“a brilliant, witty, and utterly original dramatization of the labor and frustrations of creation, the poet alternately bullying and despairing, his instruments inept, unwieldy; then the final letdown when there is nothing more to be done. It also illustrates vividly that split between the music the poet hears in his head and the leaden words at his command, and the slow, unwilling process of disciplining and refining these two elements until they finally chime together in a single work of art.”

This is a plausible, and in a means remarkably complete studying of Beckett’s brief however puzzling play. We might learn words and Music as an allegorical illustration of the creative process, as Alvarez maintains, it can’t be said to be solely that.

Despite its brevity, Words and Music is, as all Beckett’s imaginative writings are, to be considered less than the means by which the creator expresses or transmits a certain content than as a machine for producing meanings, for provoking responses from its bewildered viewers of listeners and readers.

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Something occurs in Words and Music. Like its characters, its viewers might well prefer that “something” not be “nothing.” Meaning nothing itself, Words and Music can imply something and everything; it might accommodate these partial readings it invites but resists.

This multiplicity of interpretive potentialities derives largely from Beckett’s willingness to divorce form from content, emphasizing the one whereas almost eliminating the other altogether. “It is the shape that matters,” Beckett once mentioned of a sentence of which he’s fond, and one can be taught a lot regarding the impact Words and Music has on its viewers and because of this about its meanings by its form.

The languages they make use of—verbal and musical—show equally ineffectual. However, though communication is all the time impossible in Beckett’s world, the necessity of characters and creator alike to go on performing—speaking and taking part in—remains. Words and music might convey no meanings, however they exist, if not as vehicles then as pure types, in and for themselves, they usually evoke responses.

The play circles around several vaguely associated concepts, images, and situations. Language talking and playing is probably the most pervasive; imploring, pleading, inviting, accompanying, submitting, dominating, attempting, failing, and repeating are others. Together they contribute to the play’s movement away from the intolerable burden of infinite performance, of meaningless existence, and towards the release to be discovered within the stasis of a final and ideal efficiency, or of death.

Words and Music long to be released (presumably by Croak) from having to talk and to play. They long to be released from the burden of getting to be what they’re (the one word, the other music) and released too from consciousness of self (incomplete, dependent, unhappy, and unsatisfying) and of the other, particularly of the tyrant other they serve, Croak, who seems to be pushed by an equivalent longing which, paradoxically, solely his tormentors can fulfil. This rhythm ends, summing up the nature of their quest well beyond words.

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