Clown, existential man and the res itself: a consideration of clown as image of man in the works of Samuel Beckett with special reference to the stage plays

Rowsell, Mary Dalton (1975) Clown, existential man and the res itself: a consideration of clown as image of man in the works of Samuel Beckett with special reference to the stage plays. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This study explores the significance of the presence of the clown in the work of Samuel Beckett. An attempt is made to indicate the parallels between the clown and “existential man” and to show, by means of a discussion of his stage plays in particular, how the image of man as clown is central to Beckett’s work, shaping form as well as providing content. -- The work is divided into three main sections, the first of which deals with the clown, the second with “existential man” and the third with the art of Samuel Beckett. Sections I and II function as a background against which the assessment of Beckett’s art as incorporating and fusing both traditions can be fully appreciated. -- Section I, “He Who Gets Slapped: The Clown down the Ages”, deals with the characteristics of various clowns throughout history. From this discussion an image of the clown as outsider emerges: the clown is rejected and thwarted at every level of existence. This cosmic reject, however, never gives up the struggle in a universe alien to him. -- Section II, “The Existentialists: Man as Clown”, makes clear the nexus between the clown and “existential man” by means of an exploration of the situation of the latter as set forth in the writings of Pascal, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Jaspers, Sartre and Camus. The discussion reveals that the clown is the concrete manifestation of “existential man”. -- Section III, “The Art of Samuel Beckett: the Res Itself”, show (through an examination of his stage plays) that Beckett makes use of the clown as a vehicle for realizing in art the experience of “existential man”. The clown as image of man is central to his work: by means of the clown Beckett has externalized the inner experience of the individual in all its complexity and has given form to a grim yet essentially affirmative vision of man.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7099
Item ID: 7099
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [215]-223.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1975
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Beckett, Samuel, 1906--Criticism and interpretation; Clowns in literature

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