Beckett Not I and Poststructuralism Essay

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Not I is Beckett’s most searing and intense dramatic work. This play explores the key issue of the relationship between language, body and subjectivity which lies at the heart of Beckett’s writing. Samuel Beckett concerns himself with the system of language and the faultiness of the proposition that the complex system of signs can actually communicate meaning. In Not I , Beckett paints the nature of reality as he sees it as an endless stream of signifiers, signifying nothing much at all. The irony in Beckett's work is that to speak is to exist, but in order to speak, one must adopt the system of language, words, which has no inherent meaning. Beckett's technique, to demonstrate the lack of referent or the signified in language, illustrates the lack of meaning not only in language but also in life and thus the meaninglessness of postmodern life is starkly highlighted in Not I. This paper examines Not I through a post-structural lens. By integrating the theoretical concept of deconstruction suggested by Jacques Derrida with the psychoanalytic theories of Jacques Lacan's symbolic language, the reader has to identify and interpret some the symbols in this play as signifiers. The abundance and specificity of Beckett's symbols and their corresponding meanings can be further appreciated thorough deconstruction of the text wich opens up the potential to uncover a deeper understanding. Not I features a single mouth “upstage audience right” which gives voice to a stream of speech at a speed which renders the individual words almost incomprehensible to the listener. There is no body, quite literally, that we may call the main character in this drama. To account for the life the body has endured, only a body part necessarily remains to articulate the experience. This mouth relates the life experience of a woman abandoned after a premature, loveless birth and leading a

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