To The Lighthouse & WWI

To the Lighthouse is the one Virginia Woolf novel I’ve read that seems to present the war in a fairly broad and historical perspective – certainly more so than the other stuff I’ve read of hers in the past, anyway. The perspective is interesting, especially when connecting it to her stream of consciousness writing style. The first section “The Window” being set before the war, not much chaos or havoc has ensued yet but still a lot is going on (if a lot wasn’t going on, Woolf probably would not have written 100+ pages for that section). With their being a story to tell of the Ramsay family and other characters in question here, Woolf would probably need to make use of multiple perspectives. All seems peaceful, and then suddenly, Time Passes, and with the passage of time, there is presence of war. 

In the second section of the novel, “Time Passes”, the Ramsay residence has apparently been empty for a decade, but more importantly, the war still is happening France. In parantheses Woolf records the deaths of three major characters, one of which is Andrew Ramsay, whose death is recorded as: “[A Shell exploded. Twenty or thirty young men were blown up in France, among them Andrew Ramsay, whose death, mercifully, was instantaneous.]”, which presents a bit of irony – and “twenty or thirty” suggests that there was such high disregard for individuals and their names, because in death they merely become simple statistics. 

Beckett and Eliot

The way that Beckett uses a setting that is one outside of history in order to critique the history of Western Civilization itself, to me, does not seem so different from the way that Eliot uses and engages with the real history that is going on, or that has gone on in terms of Eliot’s own work, The Waste Land, although in some instances it can actually be very different. 

 Endgame is a cycle going back and forth; endless, and because of that there will never be a “finish”, despite Clov saying “It’s all finished, nearly finished” – I too thought it was interesting to look at these words and this phrase as being relevant to waiting for the end, or perhaps there is a bit of confession here in the sense of “We’re done for”, – meaning of course that they never stood a chance, or if they did, they don’t after stating those words. Eliot’s The Waste Land makes it seem like because of how things turned out thanks to the war, they should give up, so the same thing applies to both texts in that sense.

Tintern Abbey

Wordsworth’s poem is very good about incorporating all of the Romantic period Aesthetic ideas, those being the beautiful, sublime, and the picturesque — but Wordsworth especially seems to like to utilize the picturesque in his writing.  The Abbey represents a surprise found along the winding Wye River, and surprises are characteristic of the picturesque. Also, the abbey represents how time passes, and the way things are temporary is also characteristic of the picturesque. The reason that the picturesque might be more important to “Tintern Abbey” in particular, rather than either of the other two aesthetics,  is that in the first lines “five years have passed; five summers, with the length / of five long winters”, where the sense that there is a sense of something merely temporary there, as it is given the impression that the speaker returns to a place that they had been fond of at one point in time. It is again evident when Wordsworth writes, “Nor wilt thou then forget / That after many wanderings, many years / Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs, / . . . were to me / More dear”, in this case he would be trying to tell his sister although he’s been gone for a long time, nature was always significant in his absence. This theme relating to Nature definitely referred to the use of the Aesthetic of the Picturesque in the text. 

The Wasteland

The Waste Land draws on a wide range of cultural references to depict a modern world that is in ruins. The world of The Waste Land is one in which sterility and waste have replaced fertility and traditional order. The structure of the poem itself mirrors the chaos of the post-war world. Eliot’s use of fragmentation in the poem demonstrates the disordered state of modern existence.
This fragmentation is achieved through a collage of literary texts juxtaposed against one another. Most lines in the poem echo an academic work or literary text, complete with footnotes written by Eliot referencing his sources. Scenes appear and dissolve abruptly, sometimes seemingly at random. Characters appear, are prominent for a moment, speak, and then vanish. For example, a character named Marie appears briefly in the beginning of the poem: “And I was frightened. He said, Marie, / Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. / In the mountains, there you feel free. / I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter”. Having been named, she disappears; the fragment ends abruptly and a new scene begins. This mix of bits and pieces of dialog, images, ideas, and languages represents the modern world, with its excess of sensory perceptions and chaotic, fractured society. Lines of the poem itself hint at its structure: “These fragments I have shored against my ruins”.
Another aspect of the fragmentation is the constant shifting of time. The past, present, and future are inextricably linked; the poem constantly shifts its perspectives, seeming to jump from the past to present and vice versa. Ancient myths, classical literary works, and landmarks in Western history are all frequently juxtaposed in the context of contemporary events, casting new light on both the past and the present. The echoes of literary works, often referenced in Eliot’s footnotes, are fragments themselves, mere pieces of full texts. These fragments emphasize recurring themes and images in literary tradition and link the contemporary state of humanity to past history.
This fragmentation also suggests the dilemma of the modern artist: how to find an adequate poetic form and expression to convey one’s inner experience. The poem suggests that the conflicted state of the world is so chaotic that traditional methods of poetry are inadequate to convey the modern experiences. The modern artist is forced to recreate old myths and draw upon past literature in order to sufficiently express one’s own meaning and experience, yet even this form of recycled poetry seems deficient; the use of literary allusion creates ambiguity in the meaning of the poem, thus poetry itself seems to fade into obscurity.
The Waste Land expresses the chaotic life of both individuals and society and reflects on the despair that seems to have overtaken the modern world. The poem uses fragmented scenes and literary allusions to lament the ruin of modern culture and seek renewal in the cultural past. The fragmentation of the poem’s form represents the disillusionment and fracturing of modern society.

Joyce’s Stories

The stories of “Eveline” and “Araby”  are different in a way, — Araby seems  to deal with some kind of an epiphany or realization; the characters lose their innocence or realize their priorities are wrong or something of that nature. But Eveline, on the other hand –

I find that in “Eveline” while she does fall into a mental breakdown, she doesn’t necessarily realize anything. I almost get the impression that the indecision and uncertainty froze her brain to the point of stillness. While she never certainly makes the decision to leave with Frank, she doesn’t make the decision to stay either. Rather, her fear holds her immobilized. That’s just one way in which these stories are different.

War Poets Exhibtion

I found the live readings to be a lot like a play from my background in theatre. The tone of voices and just hearing a voice added so much more to the overall experience for me. I think that has to be the most interesting. Yes, we read them in class and read over the darkness that these individuals faced or the ideas that were thrown at them, but just like with any play it comes to life when it read out loud. So as I look over these for the final it became more real to me at least. It really gave it perspective. Yes, I thought that the visuals also added to the experience, but live voices and interviews really put the edge on it all.

Beckett and Eliot

Both “The Waste Land” and “Endgame” critique western society, however I think that they do in different ways.

In the “Endgame” Clov and Hamm go through the same routine, however when it comes to moving forward they speak of being sick of the same patterns but do nothing. What I thought was interesting was Clov’s line on page 2581 when he says “It may end. All life long the same questions, the same answers.” Beckett employs the idea under the common saying that “history repeats itself”. That is how he deals with western civilization: the same thing happens over and over again. However, in this piece the characters do the same routine, even down to the same physical actions. They recognize that life changes as Hamm states on page 2582 “But we breathe, we change! We lose our hair, our teeth! Our bloom! Our ideals!” But just like the society Beckett is critiquing, his characters fall into their same routine, allowing history to repeat itself. What I think is interesting is that many situations repeat themselves in the short one-act. For example, they bicker over Hamm taking his pills multiple times. And even despite the recognizing of changes, it ends the same way it began: with a handkerchief, in a chair, motionless. This is written in the post-colonial era where the empire was falling, and Beckett responded with an absurd play that ended like it began, repeating its history. Was he trying to say that the empire’s history repeated itself and now is stuck for good? I am not positive, but it seems likely.

“The Waste Land” on the other hand treats history in a slightly different way. In lines 19-22 Eliot writes, “What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow/Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man/You cannot say, or guess, for you know only/a heap of broken images…” (2298-2299). What I think he means is that out of the “rubbish” of the British Empire lay pieces with no hope of repairing. The entire piece is slightly depressing and dark in that finding a sense of optimism becomes a lost cause. It is slightly different than Beckett in that no where does the history have the chance to repeat for it is broken–like modernity. 

Both were shedding light on the bleak future of the British Empire, but from what I perceived, Beckett is showing how the history has repeated itself and became mechanical while Eliot has shown that it has been left broken because of what the Empire did in the past. Regardless, they both look upon modernity and what it has become with regards that are not the highest. 

WWI In Second Life

After seeing the World War I Poets Exhibition in second life, I would have to say that I found the audio files to be one of the most interesting aspects of the experience. Being able to hear interviews and poems from people that were actually involved in the war made it feel more realistic. Hearing what all they had to say about to war made it more authentic and allowed me to get more of a feel for what it was like to be involved than anything a movie could do.

Fragmentation in Wasteland

The Wasteland is very much a critique of Arnold’s view of a culture which he wants to keep completely seperate and distinct. This is portrayed when Eliot writes, “The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne, Glowed on the marble where the glass Held up by standards wrought with fruited vines From which a golden Cupidon peeped out” (Eliot 77-80). This very much an allusion to cleopatra who emobodies beauty. But this is juxtaposed to a lower class scenario as well.

“You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique” (Eliot 156). These women are not beautiful and yet Eliot compares them to the woman prior who is in her chair because they all have a feeling of hopelessness.

The Waste Land

The Wasteland is such an incredible conglomeration of literature. I think it’s brilliant to icorporate so many established work. So many ideas are continually repeated by authors that someone else has thought up and they don’t give credit to anyone else. Eliot does not outrightly credit the quotes, but all of his footnotes do well to point out the great works of literature he is quoting.
The point of his fragmentation displays the feeligs of despairity among the people of his time. The experience of WW1 influenced everyone everywhere. English and Americans alike could not just escape the reality of it though they wanted to. They had lost nearly an entire generation of young men in combat. Everyone was affected in some manner.

“A rat crept softly through the vegetation/ Dragging its slimy belly on the bank/ While I was fishing in the dull canal/ On a winter eveing roung behind the gashouse/ Musing upon the king my brother’s wreck/ And on the king my father’s death before him” (ln. 187-192)
These images Elito writes about constantly bring WW1 to mind and show the terrors of trench warfare. But he constantly shifts to other topics too, which seem odd but are closely related.

Endgame

Endgame was a very interesting play to read. Hearing in class that it is a very physical play makes me want to see it or another Samuel Beckett play performed sometime. I enjoyed it, but it is also very depressing. I think there are quite a few similarities between Endgame and The Wasteland. Both works show a world without hope, filled with thoughtful despair. Both Elliot and Beckett are examing the ways in which modernity has brought about the loss of true culture.

At the very beginning of Endgame, Clov talk says these words:

CLOV: (fixed gaze, tonelessly) Finished, it’s all finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished. (Pause) Grain upon grain, one by one, suddenly there’s a heap, a little heap, the impossible heap (pause). I can’t be punished anymore.

These words are so interesting because they relate the feeling of giving up in despair and just waiting for the end.

Swedenborg

In relation to William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, I did not find anything that necessarily complicated the story, but I did find something that I thought was interesting… On plate 3, there is a picture at the top of a man surrounded in flames. This plate also mentions an angel named Swedenborg. I thought perhaps the figure at the top was this angel, but I was unsure. However, just before it mentions Swedenborg, there’s a note that refers to plate 24. After turning there, I read this, “When he had so spoken, I beheld the Angel who stretched out his arms embracing the flame of fire & he was consumed and arose as Elijah” (Blake, 201). I am not certain of this, but perhaps the figure at the top of plate 3 was in fact Swedenborg. After all, the figures in plate 3 and 24 look somewhat similar.

Tintern Abbey and the Sublime

As soon as you begin reading “Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey”, aspects of the sublime are injected into the every word that Wordsworth writes. Lines toward the beginning such as, “These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs / With a sweet inland murmur. –Once again / Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,” (Wordsworth, p. 390, l. 3-5). The sublime is a mixture of pleasure and fear, and that which inspires profound emotion.
Emotion would not have been on the minds of poets prior to the shift in the literary idea of nature. The “rolling waters” and the “steep and lofty cliffs” provide an overwhelming view of nature, which is what the goal was for writers of the time. The sublime also lends itself to mystery, and the idea that nature is vast and untamable, which is opposite thinking from earlier writers.

Our Society vs Darwin

“Our Society at Cranford” has several similar points with Darwin’s writing. Survival of the fittest. Darwin is about adapting, the strong will survive and the weak shall perish. In ‘Our Society at Cranford’, Miss Jenkyns is appalled at Capt Brown for helping out someone that is weak and responds with her opinion on the situation. “This was thought very eccentric; and it was rather expected that he would pay a round of calls, on the Monday morning, to explain and apologise to the Cranford sense of propriety: but he did no such thing: and then it was decided that he was ashamed, and was keeping out of sight”. Yet, the irony of Miss Jenkyns is that she needs help herself in the end. Darwin uses the same concept and creates examples through nature. He also says that in order to survive you must adapt and depend on others. This concept Miss Jenkyns does not understand in her own community even though it is forced onto her when she becomes weak.

Endgame and history

The characters’ dialogue and attitudes in Endgame, while set outside of any notion of time or history, are very clearly informed by the same attitudes of the contemporary post-war era. The conversations reveal a deep sense of burnout, exhaustion, of endless, fruitless repetition and the self-delusionment that somehow the results will be different this time. The handicaps of Clov and Hamm speak to these qualities: Clov can never sit down, never rest. He is always moving, but he can never accomplish anything.  Hamm, both forever stuck, unable to move from where he sits, is also blind, unable or unwilling to see the truth. He lives in the blindness of his self-deluding world, ordering Clov around as though what they do has any consequence, wanting to believe there is still nature, that maybe the seeds haven’t sprouted simply because “Perhaps it’s still too early” (2587). When Clov, having just told informed that he saw “Zero..zero..and zero” (2591) on the earth, nearly utters the unbearable truth that there is truly nothing. (Hamm) “All is–” (Clov) “Zer–” (2592), but Hamm angrily cuts him off before he can complete the word. Rather than face any reality, Hamm prefers to escape into a comfortable, numbed inner-world: “Is it not time for my pain-killer?” (2583). He wants to go back to bed the moment he’s awoken, escape from the consciousness of waking life and simply dream of things lost: his sight, his mobility, nature and love. “If I could sleep, I might make love. I’d go into the woods. My eyes would see…the sky, the earth. I’d run, run, they wouldn’t catch me. Nature!” (2586).

Beckett’s characters have no real purpose to continue living, there is no society in which function, nothing that can be achieved but to simply keep breathing and bickering. Their conversations are meaningless and redundant, yet their comments to one another easily transcend beyond the present situation to make larger statements about society and its state outside of the play. The dialogue communicates the attitudes of vain existence, that happiness remains only in “yesterdays:”
Nell: “Why this farce, day after day?”
Nag: “I’ve lost me tooth…I had it yesterday.”
Nell: “Ah yesterday!” (2585)
They’ve lost something essential and basic to humans, and it’s gone with the memories of joy from “yesterday.”

Likewise, Clov and Hamm frequently betray a larger idea that all is empty, exhausting, and endless, beyond their senseless banter. “All life long the same questions, the same answers” (2581). These same “answers” never bring about any change, just unending, useless motion. And life, like the seeds Clov has planted, is stagnant. It will never improve or grow: “If they were going to sprout they would have sprouted. They’ll never sprout!” (2584). Similarly, Hamm’s outburst when he wearies of Nell and Nagg’s conversation proves more applicable than to just their tedious chatter: “Have you not finished? Will you never finish? [With sudden fury] Will this never finish?” (2588).

Both Beckett and Eliot depict worlds that have crumbled to waste, simply barren and empty. Yet, the method by which the writers depict these two waste lands differ. Eliot calls forth endless allusions to literary works and culture from history throughout his poem, demonstrating what is lost through what was once had. Beckett, on the other hand, creates this empty world by showing just that: an utterly empty world, devoid of historical reference. There is simply nothing: “There is no more nature” (2583), and no real history: (Nagg) “Do you remember–” (Nell) “No”(2585). There is no point in asking this question, there is nothing to remember.

Beckett’s Endgame

There are plenty of depressing concepts found in Endgame, and many of which are intended to point directly to the civilization and the depressing and disgraceful state that it found itself in. Published in 1958, his play exaggerates some of the bleakness that was felt during the Cold War and in the 50s in general. With the dialogue being between only four characters, and many of this dialogue is repetitive, it suggests how society can be continuing to do things over and over again with the same results. They are lost in a sort of stupor, much as Clov on page 2591 when he is trying to look out the windows with the telescope, but he keeps on forgetting either the steps or the telescope, all while Hamm is constantly critiquing him and criticizing him for his every move and decision, and even when he finally does get the telescope and stairs combination correct, all he sees is “zero…zero…and zero.” I felt like this could be much like the U.S. at that time: the government and society kept on attempting to do things but were without success, all while people were criticizing and making remarks about how they felt they could perform the job better. Hamm did nothing of the sort to help, however. He is completely useless and is merely the director of all of Clov’s actions. In other words, the government is entirely driven by the people’s voice, but they still fail to actually accomplish anything worthwhile; they merely move back and forth and back and forth.

By placing the play in a time outside of time, it allows the readers to use their imagination to a greater extent in devising the events surrounding the current state of affairs. The readers are also free to draw their own conclusions about how this relates to the real world: how the sky and the outside world got to be so very “GRRAY!” (2592). Beckett also uses Hamm to get the readers to wonder about their purpose in life when he says: “Imagine if a rational being came back to earth” [implying that all the rational beings are gone from earth?] “wouldn’t he be liable to get ideas into his head if he observed us long enough. [Voice of rational being.] Ah, good, now I see what it is, yes, now I understand what they’re at!” (2593). It seems to me more likely that they wouldn’t be able to tell what humans were there for. This connects again with the sheer bleakness of the entire drama, humans have lost their purpose in life and are simply existing from one day to another.

Do those people live in the trash cans?

When one ponders the thought of a setting outside history, one can’t help but think, “what?” So I have decided to take a stab at the idea and hope it’s right, classic Vincent! For starters, lets assume that a setting outside of history refers to the setting of “Endgame”, which is… outside of history and apparently outside of everything else. The character Clov demonstrates this when he pulls out his telescope , or ‘glass’ and informsHammthat there is no light, just blackish whitish gray. This differs from T.S. Eliot’s view of history in as far as it is nothing. Eliot seemed to gather the patches and fragments of history and glue them all together and say, now that, that is our history. Beckett, on the other hand seems to take a more barebones approach to the idea of our history, and characterizes it as nothing. This is demonstrated best by the exchange between Clov andHammon page 2593 of our anthologies. It goes something like this:

H: What’s happening?

C: Something is taking its course.

H: Clov!

C: What is it?

H: We’re not beginning to ….to…mean something?

C: Mean something! You and I, mean something? Ah, that’s a good one.

From this excerpt I have ordained that we are in fact still reading modernist literature.

Beckett

The Theater of the Absurd indeed! This was a crazy story and entertaining for someone with a warped sense of humor. This was not just merely meant to be a twisted play with bizarre dialogue; however, it seems that there are many things that it addresses in a strange manner. One thing is the idea of the past that is held by Western Civilization. Throughout the play was a very strange admiration and love for the past, even though it brought them to their future position which they hate,
“HAMM: I love the old questions. (With fervour.) Ah the old questions, the old answers, there’s nothing like them!” As well as, “NAGG: I had it yesterday. NELL (elegiac): Ah yesterday. (They turn painfully towards each other.)”. It almost a love hate relationship for these characters, just as it is for Western Civilization.
The Wasteland is similar to this play in its description of nature. There is no happiness or joy found in nature,
“HAMM: Nature has forgotten us. CLOV: There’s no more nature. HAMM: No more nature! You exaggerate. CLOV: In the vicinity. HAMM: But we breathe, we change! We lose our hair, our teeth! Our bloom! Our ideals! CLOV: Then she hasn’t forgotten us.”

All nature does in this play is diminish the lives of humans. It shows how feeble the characters are and watches as they waste away. Just as the wasteland uses nature to only depress and show death as opposed to life. Both of these stories portray the negative aspects of nature.

Samuel Beckett’s Endgame and T.S. Eliot

“Hamm: We’re not beginning to…to…mean something?

Clov: Mean something! You and I mean something!…Ah that’s a good one!”

In this excerpt from Endgame, Beckett takes on the essence of postmodernism head-on, with a core of existentialist thought. His characters find themselves in a bleak, uninteresting room, where they are actors and their surroundings are as meaningless as themselves. This setting is truly “outside of history”, in that they may as well be captive alien species in a sealed zoo exhibit on Tralfamador, they are so removed from the past of the human race, and the context of human civilization. This seems to weaken their humans status, and bring them down to the level of lab rats in God’s cruel existential parlor game, where even the humans have awareness of the hopelessness and absurdity of their situation, as evidenced in this quote.

This is different from how T.S. Eliot critiques the history of Western civilization. Eliot takes direct quotes from the past, lines from major works and allusions to historical events, and ties them into an explicit narrative in which he is simultaneously bard, observer, and participant. Eliot’s method is explicit, Beckett’s method is implicit. Both arrive at similar conclusions by different means, and this concluson is the absurd status of the human, on a cultural as well as an existential level. Beckett’s critique of Western civilization is at once oblique and biting, which is what lends it its postmodern irony and wit.

Endgame

When reading “Endgame”, what struck me most was the commentary the play seemed to make concerning the relationship between individuals of different age groups. Hamm, clearly the person with the most power in the household, ignores and abuses his elderly parents, forcing them to live in bins, showing no interest when his mother dies and only commenting, “Then he’s living” when he learns of his father’s weeping. At the play’s end, Clov, who is implied to be younger than Hamm, leaves Hamm defenseless to go meet the boy that he sees wandering outside.

Taking this as a commentary on the history of Western Civilization, I feel that Samuel Beckett is saying that those in power have historically coldly disregarded their elders. This  can be seen in Hamm’s own relationship with Nagg and Nell. Through the ending, Beckett elaborates on this message, stating that those who are ruled over will continue the aforementioned disregard of their elders as soon as they have someone to hold power over, shown when Clov leaves Hamm to meet the boy wandering outside.

Endgame: David Glover

When I started reading Endgame, I was immediately turned off by its oddness (your parents live in ashcans?) and seeming irrelevance to anything.  By the end, I was sure that I had just wasted an hour or so on an endless cycle of repetitive conversation between two uninteresting men.  While High Modernism was intended to be difficult, it seems Post-Modernism has jumped off a cliff, leaving nothing but a play smashed into meaningless pieces   – no plot, no character development, no climax, and non-sensical dialogue.  Not even a good, fragmented stream of consciousness!  But thank goodness it kept the notion that it should be as brief as possible!

I went back to the textbook and read some more about the age and Beckett and did get some insight.  After WWII, the British novel took second seat to British drama whereby “the dramatic form seemed to lend itself to the staging of new social and aesthetic experiments” with Beckett leading the way.  Beckett “sculpted his plays out of silence” and “his characters…occupy an abstract space of human existence, where the human predicaments of longing and desire for redemption, the failures of understanding, and the bafflement of death are experienced in their purest form” (text 1942).  The quote explains why Beckett wrote such a play that has no significant beginning or end in the plot or characters, who lack meaningfulness.

To answer the question about how Beckett uses a setting outside history to critique the history of Western Civilization, he sets the play in a room with a “bare interior” save some windows to observe the outside world which the audience never sees  (text 2579).  All of the action takes place in the room between four characters with little reference to place or time (except to reference the use of a telescope and hygrometer).  They talk in circles and end up where they started.  For instance, a glimmer of hope is revealed:

HAMM:  We’re not beginning to…to…mean something?

CLOV:  Mean something!  You and I, mean something!  [Brief laugh.]  Ah that’s a good one!

HAMM:  I wonder. [Pause.] Imagine if a rational being came back to earth, wouldn’t he be liable to get ideas into his head if he observed us long enough. [Voice of rational being.]  Ah, good, now I see what it is, yes, now I understand what they’re at!

[Clov starts, drops the telescope and begins to scratch his belly with both hands. Normal voice.]

And without going so far as that, we ourselves…[with emotion]…we ourselves…at certain moments…[Vehemently.] To think perhaps it won’t all have been for nothing! (text 2593)

But, alas, this thread is lost and all is for nothing when Clov is distracted by a flea.  What does this mean?  I believe that Beckett sees England downsized, wounded from the war and is no longer the hub of Western Civilization.  As such, these characters and “action” leave no impact on the world just as England no longer impacts civilization as it once did.  Nothingness and irrelevance is all that exists now.

In contrast, Eliot’s The Wasteland engages with history.  Like Beckett, Eliot expresses little hope for the future.  However, Eliot uses allusions to demonstrate the richness of past civilizations that have come before.  A solid foundation of religion, literature and tradition are woven into his poem that captures the history of Western civilization and more.  Even if Western Civilization wanes, this huge body of works of art and culture will prevent it from reducing to oblivion.

Endgame

In Samuel Beckett’s play, Endgame, the unique setting of this house outside of history is used in conjunction with the unique characters, each carrying their own handicap. These together are used to comment on the history of Western Civilization. The way Becket does this is by placing the characters in a sort of perpetual carrousel, which when all options considered the only way off is death. The term endgame comes from chess, and it represents a scenario in which one of the players has been set up and can do nothing from this point on except wait for their inevitable defeat. I believe this is the view taken of western culture, the belief that it has been put in a situation where it has the opportunity to do whatever it likes, yet no matter what happens to end result is guaranteed to be it’s demise.

In T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland several parallels can be made to Endgame. The most notable similarity between to two works is the fact that Eliot seems to be describing a land that has been doomed with no hope of a future. Just like in Endgame they both seem to have a setting of perpetual anguish, with nothing to hope for except “a nice natural death, in peace and comfort” (Beckett)