Krapp's Last Tape

by Samuel Beckett

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Discussion Topic

Writing an essay on Krapp's Last Tape

Summary:

To write an essay on "Krapp's Last Tape," focus on themes such as memory, regret, and the passage of time. Analyze Krapp's interactions with his past recordings and how they reflect his current state of mind. Consider the symbolism of the tape recorder and the significance of Krapp's choices and reflections throughout the play.

Expert Answers

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How should one conclude an essay on Krapp's Last Tape?

It is difficult to provide specific advice without knowing the thesis of your essay.  Assuming you have done some analysis of the play, whether on its dramatic qualities, themes of the story, or something else, a conclusion can be written following a basic formula.  The order of your sentences in a conclusion paragraph is completely up to you, but effective conclusions typically contain the following:

  1. A restatement of the thesis - not necessarily worded exactly as it was worded in the introduction.
  2. A review of the sub-topics which the essay covered - simply cover again what you discussed in the body of the essay, briefly.
  3. A final conclusive remark about the main idea of the essay - this statement basically answers the question, "So what?" about the whole essay.
  4. A personal opinion - either about the topic of the essay or the text on which the essay was written.  A well done conclusion will find a way to tie the text and the topic of the essay together, and comment.
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How can I write an essay on the symbol in Krapp's Last Tape?

Beckett’s one-person play is a study in identity. Start your essay by remarking on the transience of personal existence through time: we are not who we were yesterday or last year. Beckett explores this idea by presenting in the present an elderly man who has made a habit or hobby of recording his voice on tape regularly since his early adulthood; like a diary, he recalls each event of the day at the end of that day. The play’s present time is represented by the old man as he makes what he believes will be his last tape. As a sort of warming up to that task, he plays and listens tp tapes from his past. (In the staging of the play, the actor moves into and out of the shadows, to represent this time change.) Your essay, then, should deal with what we, the audience, learn about Krapp from this layering of times in his life. Krapp himself reacts variously to hearing/remembering the past events – past loves, etc. In your discussion, then, gather Beckett’s view of Krapp as a sample of what we all do, remembering, reminiscing, re-collecting ourselves to construct what might be called “us” or a series of “us’es.” What makes this play particularly essay-worthy is the penetration into the complexity of all human makeup, the illusion that we exist only in space when we actually exist in time – instead of tapes, we have our memories, altered by the imperfect mechanism of our brains, just as Krapp’s tape player can only play a segment of his memories at a time. (Psychiatrists tell us that we don’t actually remember events – we remember the last time we remembered that event.) Since an essay is an attempt to support a thesis, begin your essay with a strong but inventive thesis statement – something you believe is true, and Krapp helps you explain and defend your viewpoint.

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