Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 292
The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett novel is very uniquely written. It does not have a plot and switches frequently from first to third person. Even more unusual are the multiple personalities or versions of the narrator. He is identified as “Unnamable.” The lack of identity associated with the narrator is meant to explore the loneliness of humanity. The story dives into human consciousness. It does so by having the consciousness of the narrator split at various times of the novel. The Unnamable takes on several personas: Mahood, Worm, and Basil. It's unclear if Mahood and Worm truly exist. Even more peculiar is that these two consciousnesses are aware of one another’s presence. For example, the Unnamable says,
But absurd of me whom they have reduced to reason. It is true poor Worm in not to blame for this. That soon said . . . For if I am Mahood, I am Worm too, plop. Or if I am not yet Worm, I shall be when I cease to be Mahood, plop.
This quote exemplifies the character development in the novel. The consciousness of the varying personas are so intertwined it is at times unclear who is even speaking. Worm and Mahood are at times separate consciousnesses and at other times they are combined.
There are several people mentioned throughout the book, however, they are simply used to explore the words of the narrator. They do not have any known consciousness of their own and are not developed in any way.
While there are no identifiable characters, it has been argued that the subject of the text is the text itself. The language is poetically written so that the reader becomes lifted out of their own consciousness and brought to the level of the Unnamable.
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