Oscar Wilde was an Anglo-Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest playwrights of the Victorian Era.
Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854 and studied both in the Trinity and Magdel College.
In his lifetime he wrote nine plays, one novel, and numerous poems, short stories, and essays.
Wilde was a proponent of the Aesthetic movement, which emphasized aesthetic values more than moral or social themes. This doctrine is most clearly summarized in the phrase 'art for art's sake'.
Besides literary accomplishments, he is also famous, or perhaps infamous, for his wit, flamboyance, and affairs with men. He was tried and imprisoned for his homosexual relationship (then considered a crime) with the son of an aristocrat.
The protagonist is Dorian Gray, a young man whose beauty fascinates a painter Basil Hallward, who decides to portray him. Once the picture is finished, Dorian, expresses a wish of eternal youth: the portrait would absorb all the sign of age while he remain forever in his youthful perfection. The wish comes true, over the years while the portrait grows old and ugly while Dorian’s appearance remains unchanged.
Dorian lives only for pleasure, making use of everybody and letting people die because of his insensitivity. When Dorian, totally corrupt and evil, sees the corrupted images of the portrait decides to destroy the portrait and begin a new life. But in doing so he kills himself. The portrait is magically restored to its original image of Dorian’s youthful perfection while the real Dorian’s features in death become those of a hideous, disgusting old man.
The story is told by an third-person narrator. The settings are vividly described and the characters reveal themselves through what they say or what other people say of them (typical technique of drama).
Difference between the book and movie
The movie is more spectacular and dramatic, the set is build to express anxiety, and darkness (the first night was dark and rainy)
The story were changed a little fro adapting them to the cinema, in example in the last scene there are fire, explosion and chaos that in the book there aren’t.
In the last part of the movie it seems like that the director has finished the time to tell the story, and he has accelerated the narration.
THE EDWARDIAN AGE
On the death of Queen Victoria in 1901,the royal house took the germanic surname of her consort Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Victoria’s son Edward, he reigned until 1910 as Edward VII (was the only sovereign of that dynasty in Britain. He was crowned in 1902.
He restored energy to a monarchy after the death of his father, related to most European royalty and he was known as the Uncle of Europe.
He was able to assist in foreign policy negotiations.
There was an agreement between the French and the Britain in 1904 this created the colonial disputes.
Edward was the first British monarch to visit Russia.
In 1902 founded the Order of Merit to reward those who distinguished themselves in science,art or literature.
In 1906 the Liberals won the general election and took the first steps towards the creations of welfare state : national insurance and old-age pensions were introduced.
Although these measures of social improvement were passed, the Edwardian period was a time of industrial unrest, strikes and violence. The strikes were a way of fighting against the state for high prices and low wages.
Edward VII died in 1910 before the situation could be resolved, and was succeeded by his son George V. He maintained a certain informality and a straightforward character and that made him popular but occasionally he showed that the King’s right advise could be significant.
He would prove to be a model monarch by carrying out his royal responsibilities with exemplary dedication while having an irreprehensible family life.
In 1914 the First World War broke out. The King made several visits to troops and to hospitals, visiting wounded servicemen and he pressed for proper treatment of German prisoners of war.
In 1917, anti-German feeling led him to change the family name to that of Windsor.
Support for Home Rule for Ireland, that is, the right of the people to control their own affairs,had grown in the late 19th century.
The 1916 ‘Easter Rising’ in Dublin, and subsequent civil war, resulted in the setting up of the Irish Free State in 1922, while the six northern counties remained part of the united Kingdom.
George V played a conciliatory role on this and other occasions such as the General Strike of 1926.
WORD WAR 1
The war broke out when the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914. Germany marched through Belgium, a neutral territory, in order to attack France.
The war involved the Central European Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary) on one side and the Allies, or Triple Entente (Britain and British Empire, France and Russia and their allies, including later Italy and the United States) on the other.
Britain declared war on Germany in 1914; Britain justified war on germany because Britain was a signatory of an agreement to respect Belgium’s neutrality.
An increase in patriotism from Ireland, as well as from the Dominions enabled Britain to face its ordeal with impressive unity.
Germany nearly defeated the Allies in the first few weeks of war in 1914, since it had better equipment, better-trained soldiers and a clear plan of attack. This was Britain’s first European war since Napoleonic Wars, and the country was unprepared for the terrible destructive modern artillery, machine guns and tanks, and the use of gas and shells during the attack.
Shell shock (psicosi traumatica) was the term used by doctors to allude to the psychological effect of shell explosions.
The United States joined the war in 1917, considering it a “war to end all wars”.
American participation accelerated the German defeat: in 1918 Allied and German signed an armistice. The peace treaty was signed at Versailles in 1919.
President Wilson proposed “Fourteen Points” to work out the peace treaty and prevent future occasions of war. He devised a plan to set up the “League of Nations”, an organisation that wanted settle their differences instead of resorting to war The United.
United States never joined the League of Nations.
The war was a monster which was beyond the control of statesmen or generals, and claimed the lives of about nine million men. It made possible a Communist revolution in Russia, which got rid of the old rule of the tsar and paved the way for the rise of dictators like Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.
Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) was born in Berdichev, Ukraine, on December 3rd, 1857. He was born Polish but he would become renowned for his English short stories and novels.
His father, Apollo Korzeniowski, worked as a translator of English and French literature, so Joseph had a significant exposure to literature while still a boy.
In 1861 his family was exiled to Northern Russia as a result of his father's political activities. Then in 1869, both of Conrad's parents died of tuberculosis and he went to Switzerland to live with his uncle.
Conrad attended school in Kraków but he dreamed of the sea and in the 1870's he joined the French merchant marines. While working on a ship Conrad made voyages to the West Indies and was even involved in arms smuggling. Eventually Conrad joined the British merchant navy and swiftly climbed the ranks. By 1886 he was commanding his own ship and was given British citizenship. It was at this time that he officially changed his name to Joseph Conrad.
Conrad spent the next part of his life sailing all over the world, it was this experience that provided him with material on the exotic locations of many of his novels. He visited Australia, various islands in the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific, South America, and he even sailed up the Congo River in Africa. In 1894 at the age of 36 Conrad finally left the sea behind him and settled down in England. Two years later he married an Englishwoman by the name of Jessie George, and it was with her that he had two sons.
Even though he was settled down and had a family Conrad still occasionally traveled, but for the most part he just wrote his novels, the first of which, Almayer's Folly, appeared in 1895. That novel would be followed by many others including The Heart of Darkness in 1902 and Nostromo in 1904. Conrad continued to write until the year he died, publishing his last novel, The Nature of Crime, in 1924. He died August 3rd, 1924 of a heart attack.
Heart of Darknesstells the story of Marlow, a sailor, who describes to his shipmates the unusual experience he had traveling upriver in the Congo and the effect it had upon him. Hired by a Continental trading company as a steamboat captain between the outer stations and the interior, Marlow's primary mission was to visit and, if necessary, retrieve the mysterious Kurtz, an extraordinarily successful agent who had lost contact and reportedly fallen ill. Marlow tells the men that the entire journey was a sort of dream--lacking any real-world logic, deeply affecting, and difficult to describe in its details. The trip took several months, occurring in stages--a trip along the coast, an overland trek to the Central Station, and finally the riverboat journey to Kurtz's outpost.
During the entire expedition Marlow was struck by the mistreatment of natives by the Company and its agents, the preponderance of disease, the intimidating presence of the jungle, and the absurdness of the colonial operation carrying on for a relatively small amount of ivory. He began hearing of Kurtz as soon as he arrived, and everything he heard--of Kurtz's eloquence, of his high moral principles, of his effectiveness, of his influence in the Company--aroused Marlow's interest. The idea of Kurtz began to obsess Marlow. When they arrived at his station, they found he had set himself up as a sort of god to the natives he had once wanted to civilize; he had become more savage than even the natives, taking part in bizarre rites and using violence against the locals to inspire fear and obtain more ivory.
Against his wishes, Kurtz was taken back by Marlow and the other whites; his illness overcame him on the return trip, and he died. His last words--"The horror! The horror!"--were his realization of the depths to which he had sunk from his noble goals.
He entrusted Marlow before his death with his papers, including an article he had written on bringing enlightenment and progress to the natives of the Congo. As evidence of Kurtz's decay, however, was the postscript he'd scribbled at the end of this article: "Exterminate all the brutes!". Marlow was shaken by his encounter with Kurtz, who had, because of his isolation, been exposed to the darkness within himself and had gone mad as a result. When back in Europe, Marlow contacted Kurtz's fiancé but could not reveal to her the terrifying last words.
Ultimately, Marlow tells the story of how when the thin shell of civilization has fallen away, the corruption and evil within can surface. Seeing the darkness lingering immediately under the surface of a man who thought himself moral forever affected Marlow as a deep nightmare would. As Marlow finishes his story, trailing off as he reaches the lie about Kurtz's last words, the sky has grown dark.
U.S. Army Captain and special operations veteran Benjamin L. Willard (Martin Sheen), returned to Saigon since his involvement in the Vietnam War, drinks heavily and hallucinates alone in his room. One day military intelligence officers Lt. General Corman (G. D. Spradlin) and Colonel Lucas (Harrison Ford) approach him with a top-secret assignment to follow the Nung River into the remote jungle, find rogue Special Forces Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando) and terminate his command with extreme prejudice. Kurtz apparently went insane and now commands his own Montagnard troops inside neutral Cambodia.
Willard joins a Navy PBR commanded by “Chief and crewmen Lance), "Chef" and "Mr. Clean".
They rendezvous with reckless Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall), a commander of an attack helicopter squadron, who initially scoffs at them.
Kilgore befriends Lance, both being keen surfers, and agrees to escort them through the Viet Cong-filled coastal mouth of the Nung River after napalm air strikes on the locals and Ride of the Valkyries playing over the helicopter loudspeakers, the beach is taken and begins the journey upriver.
Willard sifts through files on Kurtz, learning that he was a model officer and possible future General.
Reaching the chaos of a US outpost at a bridge under attack, Willard learns that the missing commanding officer, Captain Colby (Scott Glenn), was sent on an earlier mission to kill Kurtz.
Meanwhile, Lance and Chef are continually under the influence of drugs. Lance in particular smears his face with camouflage paint and becomes withdrawn.
The next day the boat is fired upon by an unseen enemy in the trees, killing Mr. Clean and making Chief even more hostile toward Willard. Ambushed again, by Montagnard warriors, they return fire despite Willard's objections.
Chief is impaled with a spear and tries to pull Willard onto the spearhead before dying. Afterwards, Willard confides in the two surviving crew members about the mission and they reluctantly agree to continue upriver, where they find the banks littered with mutilated bodies. Arriving at Kurtz's outpost at last, Willard takes Lance with him to the village, leaving Chef behind with orders to call an airstrike on the village if they do not return.
In the camp, the two soldiers are met by an American freelance photographer (Dennis Hopper), who manically praises Kurtz's genius.
As they proceed, Willard and Lance see corpses and severed heads scattered about the temple that serves as Kurtz's living quarters and encounter Colby, who is nearly catatonic. Willard is bound and brought before Kurtz in the darkened temple, where Kurtz derides him as an errand boy.
Meanwhile, Chef prepares to call in the airstrike but is kidnapped. Later imprisoned, Willard screams helplessly as Kurtz drops Chef's severed head into his lap. After some time, Willard is released and given the freedom of the compound.
Kurtz lectures him on his theories of war, humanity and civilization while praising the ruthlessness and dedication of the Viet Cong. Kurtz discusses his son and asks that Willard tell his son everything about him in the event of his death.
That night Willard enters Kurtz's chamber as Kurtz is making a tape recording, and attacks him with a machete.
Lying mortally wounded on the ground, Kurtz whispers his final words "The horror ... the horror ..." before dying. Willard discovers substantial typed work of Kurtz's writings and takes it with him before exiting. Willard descends the stairs from Kurtz's chamber and drops his weapon.
The villagers do likewise and allow Willard to take Lance by the hand and lead him to the boat. The two of them ride away as Kurtz's final words echo eerily.
Apocalypse Now is not a film transposition of Heart of Darkness, the film only was inspired by the book.
Therefore things like the main plot (except the mission) and the first person narrator are the same, the only difference is that the narrator in the book is named Marlow and in the film he is named Willard.
The real differences between Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness is probably the character of Kurtz, and how Marlow and Willard react to his presence or his perception and that shows us how Marlow and Willard really are. All in all Marlow is more fascinated by Kurtz than Willard.
Speaking about this, we can find in the film and the movie the mental training the protagonists do, trying to figure out Kurtz's person and to prepare themselves to meet him by reading some US Army reports and listening to different “testimonies”.
And there a big difference also in the meaning of the two film, heart of darkness written about 100 yers before the Vietnam War is about the imperialism and his cruelty.
Apocalypse now is about the stupidity and the cruelty of the war.
Edward Morgan Forster was born on 1 January 1879 in London, England to Alice Clara née Whichelo (1855-1945) and architect Edward Morgan Llewellyn Forster (1847-1880) who died soon after his son was born. Living at Rooksnest (which would later prove the model for Howards End near Stevenage in Hertfordshire) young Edward was raised by his mother, aunts, and governesses.
A precocious young man, he started writing stories at the age of six. He attended the Tonbridge School in Kent County, then went on to study history, philosophy, and literature at King's College, Cambridge. He received his Bachelor of Arts in 1900.
Although his public school years were unhappy, at King's he blossomed under tutors and the atmosphere of intellectual freedom.
He joined groups like the Cambridge Conversazione Society, also known as the Cambridge Apostles, and met lifelong friends including Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson (1862-1932). Many of them went on to form the Bloomsbury Group.
After coming into an inheritance from his Great Aunt Marianne Thornton (1797-1887), Forster was off on his first of many trips to Europe with his mother. They visited Italy, then Greece, where Forster first experienced the Mediterranean culture he would grow to love and write about. When he was not travelling he lived with his mother at Abinger Hammer in Surrey until her death in 1944. Forster knew early on he would be a writer and was fortunate enough to not experience financial hardships. His first of many sketches, essays, and stories was printed in the Independent Review in 1904. Later, he contributed greatly to the London literary journal The Athenaeum. His first novel "Where Angels Fear to Tread" (1905), set in Tuscany, was followed by his "Bildungsroman novel The Longest Journey" (1907), "Rickie Elliot" being one of his most autobiographical characters." A Room With a View” (1908) was Forsters next work, a romance set in Italy, contrasted with Edwardian England's society and mores. While he started writing “Maurice" in 1912, it was not officially published until after his death in 1971.
June 1970, Edward Morgan Forster died at the home in Coventry of friend and long-time companion Robert Buckingham.
The novel is a picture of the contracts existing between the world of the Indian community and the English society of Chandrapore.
A passage to India begins and ends by posing the question of whether it is possible for an Englishman and an Indian to ever be friends, at least within the context of British colonialism.
Forster uses this question as a framework to explore the general issue of Britain's political control of India on a more personal level, through the friendship between Aziz (an Indian man) and Fielding (an English man).
At the beginning of the novel, Aziz is scornful of the English, wishing only to consider them comically or ignore them completely.
Yet the intuitive connection Aziz feels with Mrs. Moore in the mosque opens him to the possibility of friendship with Fielding.
Through the first half of the novel, Fielding and Aziz represent positive models: Forster suggests that British rule in India could be successful and respectful if only English and Indians treated each other as Fielding and Aziz treat each other.
Afterwards Aziz and Fielding's friendship falls apart because of external pressures, the tendencies of their culture and the stereotypes of their respective communities.
Some of the basic qualities of Forster's India are that it has no interiors or exteriors, nothing is private there, everyone can see you and know even your secrets, weaknesses and failures.
The Marabar Caves have a central role in the development of the novel and the two female characters, Mrs. Moore and Adela Quested, have traumatic experiences inside them. Mrs. Moore experiences a terrifying sense of emptiness and then looses the will to go on living and Adela suffers a nervous crisis.
Adela will then accuse Aziz of having raped her in the caves, he is arrested and imprisoned.
At this point in the story, we see the opposition between the Indian population, who believes innocent Aziz, and the English civilization wanting to do justice to a people who feel inferior.
During the process Adela recalls however the details of that day and denies all allegations, making Aziz free.
The story ends with aziz opening a hospital in the jungle and Fielding repeating the question whether an Indian and an Englishman may be friends.
James Joyce (1882 – 1941) is one of Ireland’s most influential and celebrated writers. His most famous work is Ulysses (1922) which follows the movements of Leopold Bloom through a single day on June 16th, 1904. Ulysses is based on Homer’s The Odyssey. Some of Joyce’s other major works include the short story collection Dubliners (1914), and novels A Potrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Finnegans Wake (1939). Joyce was born in Dublin on 2nd February 1882 and attended school in Clongowes Wood College and Belvedere College (just up the road from the Centre) before going on to University College, then located on St Stephen’s Green, where he studied modern languages.
After graduating from university, Joyce went to Paris, ostensibly to study medicine, and was recalled to Dublin in April 1903 because of the illness and subsequent death of his mother. He stayed in Ireland until 1904, and in June that year he met Nora Barnacle, the Galway woman who was to become his partner and later his wife.
In August 1904 the first of Joyce’s short stories was published in the Irish Homestead magazine, followed by two others.
1914 proved a crucial year for Joyce. With Ezra Pound’s assistance, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce’s first novel, began to appear in serial form in Harriet Weaver’s Egoist magazine in London. His collection of short stories, Dubliners, on which he had been working since 1904, was finally published, and he also wrote his only play, Exiles. It was after these successes that Joyce began to think seriously about writing the novel he had been formulating since 1907: Ulysses.
In 1940, when Joyce fled to the south of France ahead of the Nazi invasion, Léon returned to the Joyces’ apartment in Paris to salvage their belongings and put them into safekeeping for the duration of the war. It’s thanks to Léon’s efforts that many of Joyce’s personal possessions and manuscripts still survive today. James Joyce died at the age of fifty-nine, on 13 January 1941 in Zurich where he and his family had been given asylum.
Dubliners consists of fifteen short stories, written about the normal people of Dublin and their way of life.
The stories are arranged in four groups that correspond to four “phases” of life:
- Public life.
A significant theme in all the stories is the feeling of paralysis that many of the characters experience as a result of being tied (legati) to antiquated and limited cultural and social traditions.
The last story, “The Dead”, can be considered Joyce’s first masterpiece. It stands out (si distingue) from other fourteen stories because however similar in theme it is denser.
Eveline Hill sits at a window in her home and looks out onto the street while fondly recalling her childhood, when she played with other children in a field now developed with new homes. Her thoughts turn to her sometimes abusive father with whom she lives, and to the prospect of freeing herself from her hard life juggling jobs as a shop worker and a nanny to support herself and her father. Eveline faces a difficult dilemma: remain at home like a dutiful daughter, or leave Dublin with her lover, Frank, who is a sailor. He wants her to marry him and live with him in Buenos Aires, and she has already agreed to leave with him in secret. As Eveline recalls, Frank’s courtship of her was pleasant until her father began to voice his disapproval and bicker with Frank. After that, the two lovers met clandestinely.
As Eveline reviews her decision to embark on a new life, she holds in her lap two letters, one to her father and one to her brother Harry. She begins to favor the sunnier memories of her old family life, when her mother was alive and her brother was living at home, and notes that she did promise her mother to dedicate herself to maintaining the home.
At the docks in Dublin, Eveline waits in a crowd to board the ship with Frank. She appears detached and worried, overwhelmed by the images around her, and prays to God for direction. Her previous declaration of intent seems to have never happened. When the boat whistle blows and Frank pulls on her hand to lead her with him, Eveline resists. She clutches the barrier as Frank is swept into the throng moving toward the ship. He continually shouts “Come!” but Eveline remains fixed to the land, motionless and emotionle
Virginia Woolf was born in London in 1882. Her father was the literary critic Leslie Stephen and her mother comes from an aristocratic family. So it was an intellectual family which had a great influence on her approach to writing and to art in general. But when Virginia was 13 her mother died and she suffered a nervous breakdown, and it marks the beginning of her mental instability. In 1904, after the death of his father she moved to Bloomsbury in London, where she founded the Bloomsbury Group, a circle of intellectuals.
In 1915 she published her first novel and in a moment of mental anguish, she attempted suicide. Then she wrote other novels including Mrs. Dalloway. Besides novels, Woolf was a brilliant critic and essayist. Virginia drowned herself in 1941.
The story of Mrs. Dalloway develops in a single day in London. It’s a June morning and Clarissa Dalloway leaves home to buy flowers for the party she has organized for the evening. During the day Clarissa has many changes of moods and memories.
Her day is contrasted with the figure of Septimus Smith, a disturbed. At the end of the day he commits suicide by jumping out of the window of his room, it was a veteran. News of his death intrudes upon Clarissa’s party.
Learning about this tragic event, Clarissa reflect on how necessary it is for her that Septimus dies because as he embrace death, she can embrace life.
Features and themes.
Time is often dilated and a single moment can last for a very long time, this is possible through the technique of the indirect interior monologue, used by Virginia to represent the gap between chronological and interior time.
Virginia is interested in the impressions of the characters who experience some events in their subjectivity. One of Virginia Woolf’s aim in writing Mrs. Dalloway is reduce the time unit.
George Orwell was born under the name Eric Arthur Blair in Motihari, Bengal, India in 1903. His father worked as a civil servant for the British consulate. The Blair family moved from colonial India back to England when Eric was just a young boy and he remained there until after his lackluster academic career was over. Like many notable authors, Blair/Orwell began writing at a very young age but despite the quality of his work, he was not immediately able to make a living from his passion. Unable to attend more college because of his lack of winning scholarships, Orwell moved back to India and secured a job working as an administrator for the Indian Imperial Police. Orwell worked this job for only a few years as he began to notice the inequities inherent to colonial rule.
Returning to England, Orwell moved from job to job before finally deciding he wanted to write professionally. He took his penname “George Orwell" and began to write his first novels including Out in Paris and London and Burmese Days. It was during this phase of his life that he met and married a woman named Eileen O’Shaugnessy and his socialist views began to solidify in the wake of several worldwide events. After realizing his political views, Orwell left for Spain where he fought with the United Workers Marxist Party milita. Here he realized that he did not concur completely with the Russian brand of communism, but rather favored the English variety of socialism. Shortly after this experience, he served for the British in World War II as a correspondent and it was after this that he wrote Animal Farm. Shortly after, he released 1984 which finally gave him the critical and even commercial success her was looking for. Unfortunately, the majority of the recognition came too late with his death (from tuberculosis) in 1950.
The animals of the Manor Farm lived badly. Their farmer Mr. Jones, a mean and drunken man, exploited them. One day Old Major, the pig who led the animals, called a meeting of all the animals. Old Major told them about a dream he had the previous night. He had dreamed about an old song called, 'Beasts of England', which started a resistance against the human beings. When Old Major sang the song most other animals started to join in. Everyone was very excited about rebelling. Old Major died a few days later and two young pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, started leading the preparations for the Rebellion. About three months later they revolted against Mr. Jones and they took over the farm. The purpose of the revolution was to create a fair society made only by animals, or animalism and it was based on seven commandments such as “Four legs good, two legs bad” and most importantly: "All animals are equal". They also changed the name of the farm to "Animal Farm" from Manor Farm. Snowball, an inventive and vivacious pig, and Napoleon, a big and cruel-looking pig, started to fight for leadership. In the meantime Mr. Jones was planning to attack to get the farm back but when he did the animals won the battle called "The Battle of the Cowshed". Mr. Jones was forced to stay out of the farm.
One day, when Snowball announced his plans to build a windmill, Napoleon arrived in the farm with nine big, cruel dogs that made Snowball run away bleeding. From that day Napoleon was the real dictator of the farm; he sent his dogs to eat up any animal that didn't agree with him. If something went wrong (like when the windmill they'd worked so hard on was wrecked), Napoleon blamed it on Snowball. According to Napoleon, Snowball was sneaking around Animal Farm ruining everything. When Boxer, the strongest horse in the farm, lost his strength because of old age and fell while he was building a windmill, Napoleon sent him to be slaughtered. Now Napoleon had no pity on anybody. He and the pigs were like Mr. Jones - they exploited the other animals, and they took advantage of the foolishness of some animals. They came into contact with human beings for business although they had said it was forbidden. In the end they became like human beings, they started to walk on their hind legs and they changed the old maxim with a new one: “Four legs good, two legs better”. Nothing was changed and resistance seemed to be useless.
The story is set in 1984: the world, following the World War III, is completely changed. Now there are the following continents: Oceania (Americas, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Southern Africa), Eurasia (Europe and Russia), Eastasia (Southeast Asia), which constantly fight among them. Oceania is led by an omnipotent and supreme leader no one has ever seen: Big Brother. His eyes are the telescreens that spy the daily life of every citizen, allowing the Thought Police to identify anyone who might compromise the security. There are posters and Party slogan everywhere: “War is peace”, “Freedom is slavery”, “Ignorance is strength” are the mottos. Big Brother dictates all the rules and all the citizens must obey to them. Love cannot exist: its only purpose is reproduction.
All the books are subjected to revisionism according to the principles of Newspeak, the language of Oceania, which meet the ideological requirements of English Socialism. Newspeak has a restricted grammar and limited vocabulary, in order to limit people’s freedom of thought. History is modified according to the party’s will and also people’s memories can be cancelled.
The main character of the novel is Winston Smith, a member of the middle class Outer Party, who lives in a one-room apartment in London. He works at the Ministry of Truth as an editor. He is responsible for historical revisionism, so he rewrites records and documents to conform to the state’s ever-changing vision of history itself. Despite being good at his job, Winston begins writing a personal journal where he criticises the Party and its leader, Big Brother. Then Winston meets Julia, a 26-year-old girl who secretly loathes the Party. The young lady, one day, hands Winston a note confessing her love for him. Winston and Julia begin an affair, committing a crime (love was banned in Oceania). They decide to rent a room with no telescreens in it, which is located in a proletarian neighbourhood in London. Weeks later, Winston is approached by O’Brien, an Inner Party member whom Winston believes is an agent of the Brotherhood, a secret underground society that intends to the destroy the Party. They arrange a meeting at O’brien’s flat where both Winston and Julia swear allegiance to the brotherhood. Suddenly, the Thought Police capture both Julia and Winston and the two are delivered to the Ministry of Love for interrogation. Mr Charrington, who rented the room to them, is a Though Police officer. O’Brien is an agent of the Though Police too. O’Brien interrogates and tortures Winston with electroshock, telling him that he can “cure” himself of his manifest hatred for the Party. O’Brien tries to brainwash Winston, but understands that he is determined not to betray Julia. Consequently, O’Brien sends him to Room 101, a room which contains each prisoner’s worst nightmare (in this case rats), and Winston eventually betrays her lover.
After being put back into society, Winston and Julia meet again and both reveal they betrayed the other. The man understands he no longer has feelings for her although he is troubled by memories which is sure are lies. While sitting in a bar, he sees a celebration, celebrating Oceania’s “decisive victory” over Eurasian armies in Africa. Winston is happy and proud as he looks up in admiration at a portrait of Big Brother.
Samuel Beckett was born in Foxrock near Dublin. He was educated at Trinity College where he studied French and Italian. In his life he travelled a lot around the world in fact in 1928 he went to Paris where he met James Joyce whit whom he formed an important friendship. Then he went to Germany, France, Ireland and London but he settled permanently in France. When France was occupied by german, Beckett found shelter in a farm near Avignon. This period was the most productive of his life. Most of his novels were translated in French such as Endgame and his dramatic work “Waiting for Godot “. With this last work Beckett was known as a playwright. He was associated with the “theatre of the absurd”. He received the Nobel Prize in 1969 and he died in 1989.
This work is divided in 2 acts. The protagonists are Vladimir and Estragon who are trapped on stage, waiting for Godot a mysterious figure. Without knowing where to go they talk about the time and the place of their "appointment" with Godot who appears the only way to go away from that situation. They made a lot of discussion and they also experiment the idea of killing themselves. Their conversation is becoming fragmented when suddenly 2 figures appear: Pozzo and his servant Lucky. Subsequently a boy appears with a message saying that Godot will arrive the next day. The second act can be considered the repetition of the first one even if something change: Pozzo and Lucky once again make their appearance but this time Pozzo doesn' t remember anything about the previous day. The boy also returns and he talks about the same message of the previous day. At the end of the play Vladimir and Estragon make the decision to leave but remain standing where they are. The characters of this play haven' t a real personality.
They have no memory of who they are and they're very confused and it's for this reason that this performance is considered a great comedy; also because Beckett uses an elaborate language game in which there a lot of double meaning. However on the one hand the play is considered a comedy, but on the other hand it may be tragic, as in the case in which the 2 protagonist attempt at suicide.
For this reason Beckett called the play "tragicomedy".
The Theatre of Absurd recognize in Samuel Beckett its founding-father and master. He won international fame with Waiting for Godot, a play in which two old tramps are shown while waiting for a Mr Godot who never comes.
The play perfectly exemplifies Theatre of the Absurd’s philosophy, according to the French Existentialism: life is meaningless, nothing really happens, there is no past or future but rather a series of repetitions, all exactly alike and without any purpose.
A lack of moral security was due to the decline of religious faith that had started with the Enlightenment first and Positivism later, to the disillusionment with both liberal and socialist theories of economic and social progress. The Western world seemed to have lost its orientation, leaving man with a sense of helplessness and with a feeling that all human efforts towards progress are futile.
Absurd Drama makes all this explicit by renouncing the traditional resources of plot and language, replaced by minimal sentences, silence and mime. Stage effects and properties are similarly kept to a minimum.
Therefore the Theatre of Absurd uses simple, almost basic language, characterized by a few recurrent devices: short and mainly principal sentences without secondary clauses; a common pattern is question/answer or question/question; question are often meaningless and answer are unsatisfactory, incomplete or out of mark, to enhance the inability to really communicate; repetition of words is common; and pauses and silence recur in the characters’ speeches.
Therefore the Theatre of the Absurd represents a fundamental lack of belief in the capacity of language to help people communicate.