Why is this Krapp's last tape?
This one-man play is Beckett’s stage realization of the folk belief that at death, all your life will flash before your eyes. He is remembering as he inserts each tape, his love affairs, his regrets, his “what ifs”; his present state, represented by his talking into the tape recorder, his relationship with the banana (food?), and most especially with his stepping into the stage darkness (like brief moments of sleep), all culminate in his little ditty:
“Now the day is over
Night is drawing nigh-igh
The line from a past tape: “Past midnight. Never knew such silence. The earth might be uninhabited” is echoed in his song. This will be his last tape, his final statement about the events of his life. (Any reader/viewer speculation about this being a sort of suicide note cannot be borne up either by this script or by any other writing of Beckett.) Krapp is simply out of events to record; it is a realization that only comes with extreme old age –“a wearish old man” as the stage directions prescribe, “to a decaying, disgusting, and yet still demanding body with which Krapp has tried in vain to come to terms throughout his life” as his biographer, James Knowlson, put it. The parallels to Beckett as a writer are interesting, although this play (1958) was nowhere near his last writing effort.