The Influence of Anton Chekhov on Samuel Beckett: Inaction and Investment of hope into Godot-like Figures in Three Sisters and Waiting for Godot

  • Samira Sasani Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities and Literature, Shiraz University, Eram Campus, Eram Street 7194684795, Shiraz
  • Parvin Ghasemi Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities and Literature, Shiraz University, Eram Campus, Eram Street 7194684795, Shiraz
Keywords: Three Sisters, Waiting for Godot, passivity and inaction, passive investment of hope

Abstract

Anton Chekhov has been very much influential on modern drama, especially on the Theatre of the Absurd; however, not much work has been done on his influence on the absurdist playwrights. Considering Harold Bloom’s definition of ‘influence’—writing “much like” someone in the past—the seminal influence of Chekhov on Beckett is studied in this article. Chekhov in his plays, especially his major plays, very much like Beckett’s waiting for Godot, portrays people who are passively waiting and investing their entire hope into Godot-like figures without taking any action. Thus, the sense of ennui, desperation and consequently disappointment of these characters originates from their unreasonable inaction, stagnancy and their passivity while waiting, rather than ‘waiting for Godot figures’. This article tries to show the influence of Chekhov on Samuel Beckett, investigating the similarities in form, atmosphere and theme between Waiting for Godot, the paradigm of the Theatre of the Absurd, and Three Sisters, one of Chekhov’s major plays

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Anders, G. (1965). Being without time: On Beckett‘s play Waiting for Godot. In M. Esslin (Ed.), Samuel Beckett: A collection of critical essays (pp. 140-152). New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Bartlett, J. (2005). Freedom and self-knowledge in the dramatic works of Anton Chekhov. (Unpublished Master‘s thesis). University of Missouri, Colombia.

Beckett, S. (1954). Waiting for Godot. New York: Grove Press.

Beckett, S. (1958). Endgame. New York: Grove Press.

Bennett, M.Y. (2009). Reassessing the theatre of the absurd: Parabolic drama and the question of absurdity. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Berlin, N. (1981). A secret cause: A discussion of tragedy. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Chekhov, A. (1956). Best plays by Chekhov: The sea gull, Uncle Vanya, the three Sisters, the cherry orchard (S. Young, Trans.). New York: The Modern Library.

Esslin, M. (1964). The theatre of the absurd. London: Butler and Tanner Ltd.

Fischer-Lichte, E. (2002). History of European drama and theatre (J. Riley, Trans.). New York: Routledge.

Gottlieb, V. (2000a). Chekhov‘s one-act plays and the full-length plays. In V. Gottlieb and P. Allain (Eds.), The Cambridge companion to Chekhov (pp. 57-70). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [CrossRef]

Gottlieb, V. (2000b). Chekhov‘s comedy. In V. Gottlieb and P. Allain (Eds.), The Cambridge companion to Chekhov (pp. 228-239). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [CrossRef]

Meyerhold, V. (1995). The stylized theatre. In R. Drain (Ed.), A twenty-century theatre: A sourcebook (pp. 243-245). New York: Rutledge.

Rabey, D.I. (2003). English drama since 1940. London: Pearson Education Limited.

Rollyson, C. (Ed.). (2005). Notable playwrights. Pasadena: SALEM Press, INC.

Simon, R. K. (1987). Beckett, comedy and the critics. In R. Cohn (Ed.), Beckett: Waiting for Godot: A selection of critical essays (pp. 111-114). London: Macmilan Press LTD.

Slonim, M. (1966). From Chekhov to the revolution: Russian literature 1900-1917. New York: Oxford University Press.

Uwah, G. O. (1989). Pirandellism and Samuel Beckett’s plays. Potomac: Scripta Humanistica.
Published
2012-04-10