What are the symbolic implications of Beckett’s use of lighting, props and stage directions in ‘Krapp’s last tape’

Topics: ArtComedy

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Last updated: April 9, 2019

The first piece of important symbolic information is the clothes that Krapp wears in the beginning of the play. He wears a rusty waistcoat, trousers that are too small for him, a grimy white shirt with no collar and size ten boots that are white, narrow and pointed. Along with his white face, purple nose and disordered grey hair Krapp is portrayed as a rather pathetic clownish figure.

This tells the reader that there could be slight comedy in the play; clowns being particularly funny characters. However the comedy of a clown is derived from tragedy, for example, being hit in the face with pies and falling over.Krapp’s age is emphasised several times during the opening two paragraphs. For example he is a wearish old man, he has a laborious walk, he is hard of hearing and his clothes are rusty, this all implies that he is not efficient as he might have been at a younger age. Also as the play develops Krapps pauses and hesitations increase which again emphasizes Krapps old age. This depicts Krapp as a pathetic character.

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The silver watch has much significance in the play as it not only emphasizes to the audience the importance of time but also that Krapps death is near.The third paragraph introduces the tape recorder, which relates Krapp’s past revealing it to be very tedious. The reels of tape about his life emphasize the importance of time to him as he is trying to preserve his past memories on tape.

The reels of tape seem to be less important to him as he begins to suffer memory loss with age. The words he had used in his past memories have lost their meaning to him and he resorts to a dictionary in an attempt to restore the meaning to these words and hence to his life. This inflicts yet more pathos on Krapp.Listening to the tapes over and over again has virtually taken over his purpose of living. He now has nothing worthwhile to record on tape. He tries to prove to himself that he has not wasted his life completely. Throughout the play Krapp has the desire to eat several bananas, which causes him to have diarrhoea; this tells the reader that he likes to emit waste, which symbolizes the way that he has wasted his whole life.

Krapps desire to eat several bananas forces him to become constipated, which also relates back to his “laborious walk” and his likeness to a clownish figure.Not only does Krapp have an obsession with eating bananas but also Beckett could be suggesting to the reader that he could be an alcoholic. Krapp has been caught several times during the play laboriously walking to the back of the stage, where several popping sounds of corks are heard. The stage directions read one pop every ten seconds, however it has got to be physically impossible for an old man to down a bottle of wine in 10 seconds.

This could suggest to the reader that Krapp might like popping corks for fun and that he has a fixation with popping corks or he likes to exorcize pressure.This could be symbolic in that he wants to relieve the pressures of life. As Krapp listens to his recorded past, he often gets caught fast-forwarding some of his life. This shows that it is of no interest to him and that that bit of his life has been wasted.

This inflicts more pathos on Krapp as most of his life has been recorded on to tape and it is of no interest to him any more and he is losing the purpose of living because as he ages more his past appears to be monotonous to him as he listens to it.The fact that stage is completely dark with the spotlight on Krapp possibly shows that Krapp is only comfortable in darkness as his whole life has been completely boring and dingy which has been proven in the monotonous tapes that he listens to that go into much detail, and the shabby clothes he wears. Krapp has been seen listening to the same memory twice, which mentions him having an affair with a lady.

This demonstrates that not all of Krapps life has been wasted. This memory is proven that it is important to Krapp as he was listening to it a second time.Also he ends the play with this memory and says, “Perhaps my best years are gone. When there was a chance of happiness. ” In this play Beckett has managed to create much pathos for his character Krapp.

However this was not all that he wished to achieve. It is obvious that he intended his audience to realize that in trying to remember all the unimportant memories of the past is only time wasting and foolish. Instead one should remember the important happenings in our life.

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