Language & state of chaos Essay
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The lexical choices made by Beckett in the first act show many things, such as the relationship between Estragon and Vladimir, and the confusion of the characters as to the time and the meaning of their actions. The main characters, Estragon and Vladimir, switch roles continually, so not using language as an expression of their selves, therefore the words used show no badge of identity. This shows interchangeability in the characters, so keeping the audience searching for the characters’ own distinctive personality.
This role switching that not even the characters’ roles/ personalities are certain. This confusion is increased with the characters’ inclination to talk in adjacency pairs like they are both speaking from the same train of thought To say that the language is in a state of chaos suggests there is utter confusion in the play, the audience can hear and understand the individual words being said, but cannot put them into a relevant context or meaning.
This ‘chaos’ is seen frequently throughout Vladimir and Estragon’s conversations; although taking turns with one another while speaking, they do not engage in a conventional conversation, one character talks about one topic, while the other talks about a different subject all together. The first moment I have chosen reflects this chaotic language; the two characters talk about the bible, beginning in conventional adjacency pairs, Vladimir: “Did you ever read the bible? ” Estragon: “The bible…
I must have looked at it” but then the conversation starts to waver on Estragon’s part – Vladimir: “Do you remember the story? ” Estragon: “No. ” Vladimir: “Shall I tell it to you? ” Estragon: “No. ” And finally, the language and conversation between the two becomes chaotic – Estragon: “Saved form what? ” Vladimir: “Hell. ” Estragon: “I’m going. ” This deterioration in the exchanges between the two characters shows the pettiness of them both; they seem to squabble about anything, no matter how inane it seems to the audience.
This can be seen as due to the lack of meaning or activity in their lives, with them using any method of keeping boredom at bay. This interaction between the two characters shows their abuse of Grice’s maxim of relevance, as one character’s speech holds no relevance to that of the other’s. In this moment in the play there is a lot of uncertainty for both the characters and the audience, which Beckett creates mainly via the language used by the two main protagonists. The characters are unsure about what the other is talking about, Estragon: “Who?
” Vladimir: “What? ” Estragon: “What’s all this about? “, and they are also uncertain of what really happens in the bible, Vladimir: “But all four were there… why believe him rather than the others? ” The audience is made uncertain of the meaning of the character’s talking about the bible, it is near the start of the play so they do not know what is to come. My second moment is different form my first as Estragon and Vladimir are now joined by two passing characters, Pozzo and Lucky, although Lucky does not speak till later on in their meeting.
Pozzo speaks of how much pressure Lucky, his knook, puts on him, this is all an act on his part, but Estragon and Vladimir believe him, they repeat Pozzo’s words to add definition and to show their feelings of sadness towards him, Pozzo: “It’s terrible… he must go… I’m going mad… I cant bear it… any longer… ” Vladimir: “He can’t bear it. ” Estragon: “Any longer. ” Vladimir: “He’s going mad. ” Estragon: “It’s terrible. ” This makes Estragon and Vladimir look rather naive as they believe Pozzo straight away and accuse Lucky of ‘crucifying’ Pozzo, but are then told by Pozzo that he was lying.
Estragon and Vladimir’s language in this moment is still chaotic, repeating themselves and each other, and showing confusion at what each other said, using the word ‘what’ several times as a response. Their ‘adjacency pairs’ are jarred and do not seem to fit together, Vladimir: “I don’t think so” Estragon: “What? ” Vladimir: “I don’t know” Estragon: “Ask him”. They then go on to talk mundanely about the evening, which turns into babblings of irrelevant words, Vladimir: “Worse than the pantomime.
” Estragon: “The circus” Vladimir: “The music-hall. ” Estragon: “The circus” This is an example of their words and thoughts reflecting a single unit, as if it were just one person speaking, showing their relationship to be so close they are starting to think alike. This chaotic language also reflects the uncertainty theme, which runs through the play, shown through the character’s lexis and actions (seen in the secondary text). This chaos is shown when Pozzo appears to have lost his pipe, Estragon says “He’s a scream. He’s lost his dudeen.
” This is a word coined by Beckett which does not seem to have any meaning, showing how Beckett uses language to confuse the audience, as it seems slightly ridiculous how Estragon makes up a word purely to rhyme with ‘scream’. The chaotic language in the play seems mainly on a humorous level, for example, in the second moment chosen Vladimir rushes off to relieve himself, while doing this Estragon shouts “end of corridor on the left”, even though both the characters and audience are aware they are in the middle of nowhere with just a tree.
Both of the moments chosen show language to be in a state of chaos, thus supporting the opinion that nothing is certain in the play, although there are certain factors that make this statement debatable which should be taken into account, for example, Vladimir and Estragon’s relationship, they have known each other for a long time as they share memories etc. It can also be said that the certainty of some topics in the play is left up to the audience to understand, through the situation and the characters.