Samuel Beckett Questions and Answers

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What are the themes in Samuel Beckett's Act Without Words I?

One of the themes of Act Without Words I is the difficulty of communication. The play is perfumed entirely in mime, without any verbal communication whatsoever. This hints at the difficulty involved in one individual communicating to another in any meaningful sense.

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That the sole character in Beckett’s Act Without Words I has been thrown into a desert is highly instructive. Alone in a desert without anyone or anything else around, communication of any kind—especially verbal communication—is difficult if not outright impossible.

The man’s chronic inability to communicate is undoubtedly a result of his lack of self-knowledge. As the man doesn’t seem to know exactly who he is—note how he stares in bemusement at his hands—there’s really nothing much to communicate about himself. If he doesn’t know anything about himself, what is there to say?

Besides, the man is too preoccupied with surviving in such an inhospitable environment to even think about communicating. As the man is not really in a position to communicate to us, the audience, we must somehow impose meaning on his numerous gestures and mimes in an attempt to establish some kind of connection with what’s happening on stage. Even so, such communication is also resolutely...

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