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Tragedy and Silence in Beckett's Endgame and Bond's Lear

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  • Essay length: 3421 words
  • Submitted: 20/06/2006
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University Degree King Lear

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Tragedy and Silence in Beckett's Endgame and Bond's Lear

Neither Samuel Beckett's Endgame nor Edward Bond's Lear are described by their authors as tragedies, and it seems unlikely that Aristotle would recognise them as such. Nevertheless, both writers draw self-consciously on elements of classical tragedy - though with different aesthetic and moral intentions, and with strikingly different results. In this essay, I will discuss the ways in which Beckett and Bond have adapted the model of classical tragedy, as outlined by Aristotle, to reinvent the genre for the modern era. At the same time, I want to explore the theme of silence. This is a key idea in both plays, but it is interpreted very differently by the two writers in their diverse tragic schemes.

Thanks in no small part to Beckett and Bond, tragicomedy has been the dominant theatrical genre of the last half-century - so much so that it has become an almost meaningless catch-all term to describe any play which combines sad and funny elements. However, both Lear and Endgame can properly be described as tragicomedies, as recent productions make clear. A review of the revival of Lear at the Sheffield Crucible states:

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