What is Literary Modernism? With Reference to T.S Eliot’s The Wasteland

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The Modernist movement in literature is identifiable by a strong and intentional break with tradition. This break includes a strong reaction against established religious, political, and social views. Common themes include the idea that there is no such thing as absolute truth, that there is only relative truth and as such the world occupied is creating by our being, that is, it is what we say it is. By acting against previous traditions and breaking with established views a trend of the works becomes one of loss, despair and alienation rejecting the Victorian optimism, which in turn leads to a celebration of the individual and what lies within each person. Similarly, Modernist work is identifiable by its preoccupation with introspection, that is, to look within rather than out.

While the dates for the movement vary upon source, one of the commonly agreed catalysts for such change is the First World War (1914-1918). Most of the Modernist authors felt betrayed by the powers that be by the war whom they felt had led the civilized world into a bloody and unnecessary conflict. As such, faith in the institutions as a way to understand life diminished and they began to look within themselves for the answers to their questions. Such can be seen in T.S Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ which is a scything indictment of the emptiness of industrialism and Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ which warns against where society was perceived to be heading.

Modernist writers such as Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, W.B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and Franz Kafka amongst others rejected the aesthetic burden of realism as a novel form and used other methods such as ‘the radical disruption of linear flow of narrative; the frustration of conventional expectations concerning unity and coherence of plot and character and the cause and effect development thereof; the deployment of ironic and ambiguous juxtapositions to call into question the moral and philosophical meaning of literary action; the adoption of a tone of epistemological self-mockery aimed at naive pretensions of bourgeois rationality; the opposition of inward consciousness to rational, public, objective discourse; and an inclination to subjective distortion to point up the evanescence of the social world of the nineteenth-century bourgeoisie.’ (Barth, “The Literature of Replenishment” 68)

A prime example of this would be T.S Eliot and his poem ‘The Waste Land.’ While an American, like most of the Modernist movement, he eventually moved to London. Eliot’s work can be seen as a continuation of the Imagist movement with some of his own particular traits. ‘The Waste Land’ is his primary contribution to the Modernist movement and is a highly intellectual, allusive poem. It is a complex narrative broken into five different parts, each with a different speaker or speakers. Its notable disjointed structure places it firmly in the realms of modernism but there are indications of a taste for seventeenth century metaphysical poets without holding any nostalgia or romanticism for the past.

Another of the distinguishing characteristics of Eliot’s work is the manner in which he seamlessly moves from very high, formal verse into a more conversational and easy style. Yet even when the poetic voice of one section sounds very colloquial, there is a current underneath, which hides secondary meanings. It is this layering of meanings and contrasting of styles that mark Modernist work in general and T. S. Eliot in particular.

In ‘The Waste Land’ Eliot charges the reader with verse designs reminiscent of the bible, almost conversational breaks in the poem and classical references that are aimed to challenge. This leads to a poem that often resembles more prose than poetry. At the same time, Eliot displays all the conventions mentioned previously which one finds in Modernist Literature. There is the occupation with the self and introspection, the loss of traditional structures to support the self against horrifying realities, and more flexible route to truth and knowledge.

One of the key elements of Modernism is the break with tradition. This was not always met with eagerness but often with sorrow. This can be seen in ‘The Waste Land’ where Eliot uses

There is a distance, an alienation throughout Modernist works. While ‘The Waste Land’ is a deeply personal poem for Eliot, he also tries to distance himself from the piece, making himself a catalyst for the reader to experience what is ‘ethereal’ as the man himself describes in his essay ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent.’

“When the two gases previously mentioned are mixed in the presence of a filament of platinum, they form sulphurous acid. This combination takes place only if the platinum is present; nevertheless the newly formed acid contains no trace of platinum, and the platinum itself is apparently unaffected; has remained inert, neutral, and unchanged. The mind of the poet is the shred of platinum. It may partly or exclusively operate upon the experience of the man himself; but, the more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates; the more perfectly will the mind digest and transmute the passions which are its material.”

The dedication impersonality was linked to Eliot’s claim his work was in a “classical” style and not “romantic” by which it was more concerned with form and balance than with emotion or rather, the expression of emotion. Eliot did not avoid emotion in ‘The Waste Land’ but rather the emotion in the poem is displayed by the various speakers throughout. The different voices and tones convey emotion of differing levels, a consequence of which, by not identifying with any particular one of the speakers, Eliot achieves his personalisation.

Returning to tradition, Pericles Lewis notes in his book ‘Cambridge Introduction to Modernism’ that “A brief survey of the allusions in the first section of The Waste Land shows some of Eliot’s techniques for incorporating fragments of tradition into his own work. Aided by Eliot’s own notes and comments, scholars have identified allusions in this first section of 76 lines to: the Book of Common Prayer, Geoffrey Chaucer, Rupert Brooke, Walt Whitman, Théophile Gautier, Charles-Louis Philippe, James Thomson, Guillaume Apollinaire, Countess Marie Larisch, Wyndham Lewis, nine books of the Bible, John Donne, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Richard Wagner, Sappho, Catullus, Lord Byron, Joseph Campbell, Aldous Huxley, J. G. Frazer, Jessie L. Weston, W. B. Yeats, Shakespeare, Walter Pater, Charles Baudelaire, Dante, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and John Webster—about one allusion every two lines.”

While quite a few of these allusions are weighted towards more recent works, being Eliot’s immediate predecessors in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries he also clearly notes a few ancient, medieval and Renaissance writers. This establishes a tradition of looking back to look forward but also serves another purpose. Lewis explains that “Eliot’s technique of allusion serves various functions: to give symbolic weight to the poem’s contemporary material, to encourage a sort of free association in the mind of the reader, and to establish a tone of pastiche, seeming to collect all the bric-a-brac of an exhausted civilization into one giant, foul rag and bone shop.”

Within the first lines of ‘The Waste Land’ there is a rejection but also a knowing nod to the tradition of the English language.

“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.”

“April is the cruellest month” is an allusion to Chaucer and his Canterbury tales which opens with a line professing a description of April’s “sweet showers” which make the flower of spring grow. Whereas Chaucer sees this cycle of birth and rebirth appealing, to Eliot’s speaker it is mournful as birth reminds him of the inevitability of death. This is not an indictment of Chaucer but as Eliot says in ‘Tradition and The Individual Talent’ that “No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists…. The existing monuments [of art] form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them. The existing order is complete before the new work arrives; for order to persist after the supervention [sic] of novelty, the whole existing order must be, if ever so slightly, altered… the past [is] altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past.”

It is worth noting again the relation to the First World War that Modernism shares. Modernist writers like Pound, Joyce and Eliot use ‘the current moment’ as a time of crisis, preparing or recovering from a break with history. This radical break creating Modernism certainly has something to do with the first world war, but it is also an aspect of the modernists’ eschatological view of the world, that is their fascination with the problem of destiny and the last judgment which can be seen in the biblical nature of some of ‘The Waste Land’. Kurtz’s famous last words (“The horror! The horror!”) in ‘Heart of Darkness’ ring through so much of later modernism. Eliot originally intended to use them as the epigraph for ‘The Waste Land.’ As Conrad’s narrator, Marlow, says, “he had summed up—he had judged. ‘The horror!’ He was a remarkable man. After all, this was the expression of some sort of belief; it had candor, it had conviction, it had a vibrating note of revolt in its whisper, it had the appalling face of a glimpsed truth—the strange commingling of desire and hate.”

This is something that runs through most Modernist works. The desire and ability to judge civilization as a whole. This could not sustain a movement. The cynicism and alienation of the Modernist literature could not persist. By 1939 and the outbreak of the Second World War there was already a backlash to the pretentions of the Modernist writers. A newer generation of writers chased a more pluralistic mode for their work and with the advent of a booming society commercialism and the popular audience were embraced rather than shunned in favour of a cryptic work like ‘The Waste Land’ which can be inaccessible to someone uneducated in classical works.

Alienation as a theme was no longer the done thing. That being said, the influence of Modernist literature continues to affect right up to the present day. Modernist poet-critics changed the way people think about artists and creative activities while the Modernist novelists changed the way many people perceive truth and reality. Writers such as Samuel Beckett were referred to as ‘Late Modernists’ and continued to develop some of the themes of early Modernism in their ‘Theatre of the Absurd’

Modernism was, in summary, a response to the world around the writers where the ways of thinking and writing no longer fit the society they found themselves in. No longer able to rely on the previously impermeable organisations as bastions of truth, the only response available was to look within and discover that truth was intrinsic to the reader, an idea that still persists to this day.

Bibliography and References

Barth, J (1984). The Friday Book: Essays and Other Non-Fiction. 2nd Ed. New York: Putnam Pub Group. 78-141.

Barth, J (1984). The Literature of Replenishment. 2nd Ed. New York: Putnam Pub Group. 1-60.

Eliot, T.S (1941). The Waste Land and Other Poems. 2nd ed. London: Faber and Faber. 25-44.

Lewis, P (2007). Cambridge Introduction to Modernism. London: Cambridge UP. 129-151.

MacCabe, Colin. T. S. Eliot. Tavistock: Northcote House, 2006.

N/A. (N/A). Modernism In Literature. Available: http://www.brighthubeducation.com/high-school-english-lessons/29453-modernism-in-literature/. Last accessed 9th December 2014.

N/A. (2012). Modernism in Literature. Available: http://www.slideshare.net/ciaffaroni/modernism-in-literature-1082251. Last accessed 8th December 2014.

N/A. (2012). Tradition and The Individual talent. Available: http://modernism.research.yale.edu/wiki/index.php/Tradition_and_the_individual_Talent. Last accessed 9th December 2014.

N/A. (2012). The Waste Land. Available: http://modernism.research.yale.edu/wiki/index.php/The_Waste_Land. Last accessed 9th December 2014.

Rahn, J. (2011). Modernism. The Literature Network. 8 (1), 3-4.

Waiting For Waiting For Godot. Play. Year One

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Waiting for waiting for godot

james cookson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACT I

Scene 1

Two men, perhaps in their late thirties, are sat in the cafe in the foyer of a theatre. The cafe is empty. Their table has several empty coffee cups littering it but only two chairs. Both men are cradling a fresh cups. One, Harry, is dressed in a slightly tattered blazer with a pristine white shirt evident underneath. The other man, Jude, is dressed sharply, with a finely cut suit and tie. They have clearly been there a while and their conversation has left the usual niceties behind and moved towards headier climes. 

HARRY:

I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW LUCKY WE WERE TO GET TICKETS, FOUR OF THEM! FOR THIS SHOWING! I THOUGHT IT HAD SOLD OUT ALMOST INSTANTLY. IT IS SO GOOD TO BE IN THE THEATRE AGAIN, IT HAS BEEN FAR TOO LONG. YOU KNOW, I MET HER HERE, AT THIS EXACT TABLE, SO MANY YEARS AGO!

JUDE:

I KNOW! I HAVEN’T MANAGED TO SEE A PLAY IN SUCH A LONG TIME, THINGS ALWAYS SEEMED TO GET IN THE WAY BUT ONE MUST ALWAYS FIND TIME TO LIVE, YOU KNOW. WHEN THE MISSUS TOLD ME SHE HAD MANAGED TO PROCURE SOME, I PRACTICALLY LEAPT AT THE CHANCE.YOU CAN’T JUST SIT AROUND AND LET THESE THINGS PASS YOU BY! I MEAN, HOW OFTEN DOES ONE GET TO SEE A PLAY THEY HAVE HEARD SO MUCH ABOUT? ESPECIALLY WHEN ONE IS RUNNING SUCH A BUSY LIFE. I AM JUST GLAD I COULD BRING YOU BOTH BACK HERE.

 

Harry puts his cup down and leans in, his voice falls to that of a whisper.

HARRY:

SO HOW DID SHE GET THE TICKETS? I MEAN, HAVE YOU HEARD WHO WAS APPARENTLY ON THE WAITING LIST? BIG PEOPLE, IMPORTANT PEOPLE JUDE.

JUDE:

I DON’T EXACTLY KNOW HOW, I IMAGINE IT WAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH WORK. I DIDN’T PRY TOO MUCH, I WAS JUST GLAD FOR IT.

HARRY:

I CAN UNDERSTAND THAT. TOO MUCH BAD LUCK FOR US RECENTLY I GUESS. STILL, THINGS ARE LOOKING UP. SUCH A NICE ROOM ISN’T IT.

 

Harry nods towards the coffee cups piling around them.

ALL THE SUPPLIES WE NEED! NONE OF THIS FANCY DAN COFFEES YOU GET IN THE POPULIST PLACES, NO FRAPOLATOLATIES FOR ME THANK YOU VERY MUCH. DARK ROAST, MILK, TWO SUGARS IS ALL I NEED.

JUDE:

I COULD NOT AGREE MORE. HAVING TO WAIT FOR THE LADIES IS NOT SUCH A PROBLEM WHEN YOU HAVE A FINE COFFEE TO WHILE AWAY THE TIME WITH.

 

Harry looks around and to the watch on his wrist.

HARRY:

SPEAKING OF THE LADIES, WHERE ARE THEY? I IMAGINE THEY WOULD HAVE GOT THEIR TAXI BY NOW, THERE IS NOT LONG TILL THE START OF THE PLAY AND I LIKE TO BE SETTLED IN BY THE TIME IT STARTS. THIS HAPPENED LAST TIME ME AND HER WENT TO THE THEATRE. LOVELY PLAY IT WAS. ALL ABOUT DYING AND LOVE AND WHATNOT. I CAN’T RECALL ITS NAME BUT IT WAS UTTERLY MOVING.

JUDE:

MAYBE THE LADIES ARE DEAD.

 

Jude deadpans. Harry looks at him and smiles, they both start laughing before catching themselves.

HARRY:

DEAD? DEAD! HA! YOU DO TICKLE ME! I HAVE NO DOUBT WE WOULD KNOW IF THEY WERE DEAD. ID FEEL IT, YOU KNOW?

JUDE:

REALLY? I DON’T THINK I WOULD KNOW ID I WERE DEAD. I THINK I WOULD JUST CONTINUE WANDERING AROUND.

HARRY:

OF COURSE YOU WOULD KNOW! SUDDENLY YOU’RE ALIVE AND THEN BAM! YOU’RE TOAST, WORM-FOOD.

JUDE:

YOU HONESTLY THINK THAT? SOMETIMES I WONDER IF I AM ALIVE AT ALL! EVERY DAY IS THE SAME THING, THE SAME SHIT. I SIT, I DRINK COFFEE, AND I TALK. EVERY DAY. THEN I THINK ABOUT MY PLAN, GOING OUT, GOING TO THE THEATRE AND I KNOW I AM ALIVE. BUT I THINK PEOPLE DIE SLOWLY, SO YOU WON’T EVEN NOTICE.

Harry sighs audibly.

JUDE:

WHAT WAS THAT FOR? IMAGINE YOUR LIFE IS LIKE A RUCKSACK AND YOU KEEP ALL YOUR STUFF IN IT. BUT THERE IS A HOLE IN THE BOTTOM AND EVERY DAY A LITTLE SOMETHING FALLS OUT OF IT. SO SMALL YOU DON’T EVEN NOTICE AND OVER THE YEARS, THIS SUBTRACTION OF YOUR LIFE ADDS UP AND UP UNTIL ONE DAY YOU NOTICE IT’S AN EMPTY BAG AND YOU’VE BEEN DEAD SINCE THE START.

Harry laughs softly.

HARRY:

I WOULD KNOW IF I WAS DEAD JUDE.

JUDE:

SERIOUSLY, IT IS FUNNY, MOST PEOPLE DO NOT EVEN NOTICE THAT THEY’RE DEAD, AT LEAST NOT STRAIGHT AWAY. I THINK IT CAN TAKE YEARS. PEOPLE ARE SO SCARED, THEY CLING ON TO ANYTHING, MEMORIES, DREAMS, ANY FORM OF ATTACHMENT, YOU KNOW. EVERYONE IS SCARED OF THE ONE THING WE ALL HAVE IN COMMON. I USED TO BE SCARED TOO BUT ONE DAY I REALISED I HAD BEEN NOT LIVING FOR LONGER THAN I WOULD CARE TO ADMIT, SO I DECIDED TO LIVE! I HAD BEEN LIVING THE SAME MEMORY EVERY DAY, ALWAYS THINKING ABOUT IT, NEVER MOVING FORWARD HARRY. THAT IS NO WAY TO LIVE BECAUSE IT IS NOT LIVING. I COULD FEEL THAT MEMORY HARRY, FEEL IT AS REAL AS YOU ARE TO ME NOW. CLEAR AS DAY. I WAS ALWAYS WITH HER, SHE WAS ALWAYS SMILING. EVERY TIME SHE SMILES I FALL IN LOVE WITH HER AND IT IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM I HAD. THAT MEMORY! I WAS FALLING IN LOVE WITH A MEMORY OF FALLING IN LOVE! THAT WOMAN WILL NEVER LOVE ME BACK. I LOVE HER AND IT HURTS. THE HURT WAS REAL, YOU KNOW, I COULD FEEL IT TOO. SHE WASN’T ANYMORE BUT THE PAIN WAS REAL. YOU SEE, I THINK THAT WHEN YOU DIE, THERE IS NO HELL.

Harry is clearly perturbed by his friend’s words, his actions. He looks off for a brief moment, as if recalling what he had been taught as a child.

HARRY:

I ALWAYS THOUGHT HELL WAS WERE YOU WOULD MEET THE MAN YOU COULD HAVE BEEN.

JUDE:

IT’S A NICE IDEA BUT I DON’T THINK HELL EXISTS, NOT IN A CORPOREAL WAY. BUT SOMETHING BURNS I THINK. THE THINGS YOU CANNOT LET GO OF, THOSE MEMORIES AND EXPERIENCES, THEY GET BURNT AWAY BUT IT ISN’T A PUNISHMENT. IT TOOK ME AGES TO REALISE. IT’S TO HELP YOU. YOU CANNOT LIVE EVER IF YOU LIVE IN THE PAST. IF YOU ARE SCARED, YOU SEE DEMONS, TEARING THESE THINGS FROM YOU BUT IF YOU’RE CONTENT, LIKE I AM, YOU SEE FRIENDS, HELPING TO SHARE THE BURDEN. IF YOU CANNOT LET GO, YOU, I BELIEVE, ARE DESTINED TO REPEAT THE MEMORIES THAT HURT MOST UNTIL THEY BURN OUT. BUT THEY DON’T BURN FAST. NICE AND SLOWLY.

Jude walks around to Harry and speaks next to his ear.

JUDE:

THEY BURN SLOWLY. YOU DON’T EVEN NOTICE IT FADING. SAY YOUR MEMORY IS OUTSIDE, IT GETS CLOUDIER EVERY TIME, YOU FORGET THE EXACT CLOTHES SHE WORE WHEN SHE BROKE YOUR HEART, YOU FORGET THE FRECKLES THAT LINED HER ARMS, THE LITTLE THINGS YOU FELL FOR, THEY FADE. IT BECOMES LIKE LOOKING AT A PHOTOGRAPH OF A PHOTOGRAPH. BUT YOU REMEMBER THEM IN THE CORNER OF YOUR MIND AND YOU FIGHT FOR THEM. AND THAT’S WHAT THE BURNING IS. WHEN THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO BURN, YOU SET YOURSELF ON FIRE.

His voice falls to a whisper.

JUDE:

PHOENIX LIKE.

HARRY:

THIS IS ALL SUPOSITION, YOU CANT KNOW ANYTHING LIKE THAT. TOO MUCH COFFEE I DARE SAY! YOU REALLY OUGHT TO STEADY YOURSELF!

JUDE:

I KNOW BECAUSE I WASN’T BRAVE. I BELIEVE EACH MAN HAS A METAPHORICAL GRAVEYARD INSIDE HIMSELF, YOU KNOW, OR A MUSEUM OF LOST LOVES AND DESIRES. IF YOU’RE LUCKY, THE GRAVEYARD IS ALL OVERGROWN, UNCARED FOR, OR THE MUSEUM IS DUSTY AND DECREPID, LIKE YOU NEVER VISIT IT, YOU’VE CONSIGNED THOSE THINGS AWAY. IF YOU ARE LUCKY, YOU NEVER VISIT THOSE LOST DEAD LOVES. BUT I WAS SO SCARED WHEN I THOUGHT I HAD DIED. I RAN HARRY, I RAN SO FAST! IN MY GRAVEYARD THERE IS A HEADSTONE THAT IS IN PERFECT CONDITION, I CARED FOR IT EVERY DAY, HER PAINTING WAS NEVER COVERED UP. I RAN TO THAT HEADSTONE, JUST TO SURVIVE.

Jude wipes away a small tear. Harry just looks at him. The silence is prolonged and almost awkward. Jude get up and paces around the table, trying to compose himself. Harry remains rooted to the chair. Jude settles back down.

HARRY:

AND? WHAT DID YOU FIND?

JUDE:

HER. SHE WAS SAT THERE. SHE GOT UP AND HUGGED ME. THE WORST KIND OF HUG. THE SORT THAT MAKES YOU FEEL SMALL AND STUPID. AND THEN…

Harry’s attention is obviously piqued, he leans in. A little closer to Jude.

 

HARRY:

WHAT? WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

Jude’s silence fills the stage. The silence of the café is magnified.

JUDE:

BOOM! I WAKE UP AND I AM IN THE CAFE WERE I FIRST TOLD HER I LOVED HER. IT IS QUIET AND THERE ARE PEOPLE ON THE TABLES AROUND US, PEOPLE I HALF RECOGNISE BUT I CANNOT PLACE. I GO TO TELL HER I LOVE HER, INSTICTIVELY. SHE STOPS ME AND KISSES MY CHEEK, TELLING ME SHE IS HAPPY. BUT I KNOW SHE IS NOT, JUDE, I KNOW BECAUSE I LIVED IT FOR REAL AND I KNOW WHAT IS MEANT TO HAPPEN, WHAT DID HAPPEN AND THE HORROR THAT WILL COME. I LOVE HER AND I CANNOT SAY AND I KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN. THAT WAS MY CURSE. AND AS I TRY TO FORCE THE WORDS OUT, THE ROOM DARKENS AND I WAKE UP IN MY ROOM WHERE SHE LEFT ME. I GO OUT AND I HEAD TO THE CAFE AND THE WHOLE THING STARTS AGAIN. IF THE WORLD IS A STAGE I WAS REPEATING THE SAME SCENE OVER AND OVER AND OVER. SHE SMILES, I FALL IN LOVE AND I CAN DO NOTHING ABOUT IT. THE WORST PART? THERE IS A SICK COMFORT IN LOVING SOMEONE AND NOT BEING ABLE TO HELP IT.

 

Harry stares off in silence. He stirs his coffee slowly. Jude returns to pacing around the stage. Harry remains silent, staring off into the distance.

JUDE:

I WAS LOST BUT I DECIDED TO BREAK OUT, I STOPPED LEAVING MY ROOM AND EVENTUALLY I LIVED AGAIN. SOMETIMES I GO BACK, FOR OLD TIMES SAKE BUT I AM IN CONTROL.

 

Jude’s resumption of talking behind him startles Harry, who throws his coffee over his head in shock, ruining Jude’s suit. Jude ignores this.

HARRY:

I AM SO SORRY! OH MY, THE LADIES WILL BE SO DISAPOINTTED! BLOODY HELL. SORRY MATE!

JUDE:

IT IS OF NO CONSEQUENCE. DON’T WORRY YOURSELF.

 

Jude dries himself with some napkins. He displays no concern for the state of the suit.

JUDE:

IT WILL BE FINE. IT IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD MATE.

Jude smiles and harry relaxes.

 

HARRY:

YOU THINK?

JUDE:

I THINK.

There is a lengthy silence as Jude goes to get more coffee off stage. Harry checks his phone just as Jude returns. Jude’s suit is pristine again. It is the exact same suit but there is no trace of any stains.

JUDE:

ANY WORD FROM THE LADIES MATE?

HARRY:

NOT A THING. WE ARE GOING TO MISS THE SHOW AREN’T WE?

 

Jude chuckles into his cup. Jude leaves the table and puts an arm around Harry’s shoulders.

JUDE:

WE ARE NOT WITH OUT HOPE OLD BOY.

HARRY:

I GUESS THERE IS ALWAYS THE MATINNE. IM SURE WITH ANOTHER SHOW UNDER THEIR BELTS THAT THE CAST WILL BE EVEN BETTER THAN BEFORE, WE MIGHT AS WELL WAIT FOR TOMORROW.

Harry laughs.

JUDE:

YOU DON’T LEARN DO YOU?

HARRY:

LEARN WHAT?

 

Jude sighs and drinks some more coffee. He looks at Harry the way one would a younger brother.

JUDE:

NEVER MIND MATE.

Critical Commentary of ‘Waiting for Waiting for Godot’     JAMES COOKSON WC 631

For my stage play, I decided to use a theme I find stimulating and something I feel would interest an audience. I wanted to write something that ponders existentialism and of course, Samuel Beckett uses those sort of themes in his works such as ‘Happy Days’ and ‘Waiting for Godot,’ the latter of which was a clear influence on my work, in fact one Jude at one point says ‘it is of no consequence’ a phrase Beckett was oft to use.

While the two pieces share similarities in the two people conversing and the process of waiting, I decided to focus on what it means to be alive. After writing a draft which focused mainly on such issues, I refined my idea into the only thing I could see working, which is that to define life, one must define death and what it means to die.

In this sense, the fact that the two characters are waiting for their wives and waiting to see ‘Waiting for Godot’ is irrelevant, they are merely jumping off points into the ideas I wished to explore regarding mortality and the afterlife. I do not mention the play by name, nor do the wives have names, it is ambiguous as to whether the ‘her’ that Jude talks about is the same ‘her’ as his wife. I chose to do this as to demonstrate that it should not be set in stone what is real and what is not. With time seemingly going slowly, Jude’s shirt miraculously being clean and the coffee from an empty café, I hoped to imply a sort of otherworldliness. I am happy with the majority of the work but I would have liked to further explore the characters. I feel this piece is only an extract of a larger work.

Due to this, I seeded the work with things that seem inconsequential such as the ambiguity over the source of the tickets and the seemingly endless supply of coffee. I personally feel that the café in which they find themselves is Harry’s memory and I tried to show this by referencing him being here before and the use of the image of a friend helping, such as Jude is attempting to do. I purposely avoided telling the audience what Harry’s memory was, and also to confirm he has one he runs to, I hint at it but I could not be so definitive.

Obviously, as an extract of a large piece, it was unsatisfying to end it where it did. I feel I placed Jude’s speech about death too far from the end of the piece thus leaving it to expire upon a weak note. This would be rectified later in the next scene. I enjoyed pushing ideas aside from the draft. At first, the main argument was that going to the theatre was living, a higher form of art which is something to aspire to. This ended up mainly discarded. There are, however, remains of it near the start and the end where they are excited to be seeing the play and when Harry eagerly awaits the showing the next day. Harry makes no attempt to leave. He remains rooted to his chair the whole scene. Indeed, the only major articulation he commits is when he hurls his coffee over Jude.

I chose to include certain phrases or words repeatedly to reinforce the themes. ‘Mate’ or variations upon that is used repeatedly, mainly after Jude talks about friends sharing a burden. Jude himself says ‘I was lost’ and I named him specifically after St Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of lost causes. Similarly, but not as importantly, ‘Harry’ has been used as a mane for the Devil and I sought to contrast the two, not only by name but by attire.

hey hey hey

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Hello!

So big news. I’ve given up smoking. Today is my first week clean in like five years I think. 
I’m yet to feel the benefits hugely, but i know I’m doing something good. Lily has been like a rock, encouraging and reaffirming my ability to quit. Mum has been nice too. But it’s been Lily who has been my positivity buddy. 
I gave her my bestest lighter and I think she’s going to look after it real good. I don’t know, it’s important to me that she had it.
As far as the withdrawal symptoms, I’ve been tetchy, she’s been good at keeping it in check, she’s like the black widow to my nicotine hulk haha!
My breathing has gotten easier, other than the coughing as my lungs clear. Work is difficult as they all smoke, as at uni, but all I have to do is say to lily that I’m finding it hard, and she sends positive vibes.
Anger wise, I’ve been really calm, I chose a good time to quit. The only time I’ve been angry is when my friends boyfriend showed up to our drinks and he had been cheating on her loads and he didn’t seem to care. Amy told me he was afraid of me for some reason, so I told him that if he ever hurt her again, we would have to talk. Amy said she was proud of me and he was very apologetic.
I can’t stand people like him. If you’re unhappy in a relationship, that’s fine, that’s your right, but you deal with it as an adult, you don’t need to hurt someone like that.
I digress. Like I said, I chose a good time to quit, got a lot of positives going on and my outlook is good and my bi polar has been under control for a while now.
I can’t put my finger on it, but I feel it’s got a lot to do with the general changes in my lifestyle, eating better, better friends, no drugs and being cool with Lily again. That’s a major factor. It’s like, everything is better when she’s around and I am phenomenally grateful for that. I should tell her more often.
Possibly got a new job in September, so that’ll be fucking ace. Get my life back! Lots of other stuff going on but equally as boring and irrelevant to your life.
Love always,
Xx
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Honest to god, I got to a point where I could not think about her, it took two years but I did it. Two years.
And then she comes back and through no fault of her own makes me love her again.
And it still doesn’t work.
I hate it. I feel sick. Not like hugely bad, but like empty. Like I had something fucking lovely. And now I don’t. 
I’ll dream of her tonight and she won’t think of me and I fucking hate it. I feel so fucking unlovable. That’s not her fault, I just forgot what it was like to feel loved.
I miss her. I don’t want to write shitty poems about it because I can’t. She’s so important to me and I feel like nothing.
I don’t like this. She’s my peach though, my best girl, just like she always wanted.
I just wished I mattered a little bit more right now.
Oh well, two years and I can leave this shitty town with its beautiful women who work in basements.
Never got my date.

Hello!

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Hello!

I’ve been meaning to write on here for a while, but things were too nice to write about.
Luckily they’re not now.
Found out on Friday that a friend of mine, and quite a few people
I work with, only has three months to live. I cannot explain how miserable this made me. They are one of the nicest people I have met. An absolute fucking privilege to know.
So three of us went out on Saturday to deal with this. The most miserable drinking session I have ever had. Also, took my stress out on lily, I was so rude. So she’s gone again.
Oh yeah, she came back and it was the best fucking time.
She was nice about going, like she said she can’t talk in terms of forever but for now we’re done. I don’t think she knows I’m not that stupid.
She won’t be back, and if she is, it’ll be in years, and il just be so bitter. That’s not moaning, I’m surprised I wasn’t more bitter already. 
Plus, while its been lovely, I don’t want to do this again. I need something back now and again. Like actually seeing her, and that’s just not gonna happen, she’s a very busy lady.
Anyway, it all went from the best to the worst in 24 hours.
Love always.