Act Without Words Essay Questions

Essay Questions

  1. 1

    How does the symbolism provide a dream/surrealist interpretation of Act without Words?

    The carafe, desert, tree, and light represent hope and hopelessness. Hands, rope, lasso, and the number three represent others. The shadow, trunk, reflection, and the number three represent the self. Scissors, nails, “palms like a parasol” represent the idea to control and defend. Rope, tree, cube, and carafe represent tantalizing. Tree of life, rope, “three”, hands, desert, reflection, light, and fall are religious and God references. References to error include the whistle, fall, and dust. We are left with hope, hopelessness, others, self, control and defend, God and religion, and error. The man (self) is abandoned by others because of error and still has hope but God and religion control him and cause him to defend himself against further error—his desire—so he represses everything, then acknowledges it in hopelessness.

  2. 2

    What is the existential/absurdist interpretative analysis of Act without Words?

    Man has a free will to think and make his own choices and give meaning to his life, and purpose, to find the carafe, but it is useless to get the carafe and climb the branch, and once he acknowledges, and he gives up, does it come to him.

  3. 3

    How does Samuel Beckett use a single character who does not speak to his advantage in this piece?

    It is the struggle of one man, the everyman, and it is governed by physical, base actions that are universal. Actions are universal, words are not. Words are meaningless, and practically absurd. Actions carry greater meaning.

  4. 4

    Does this play have atheistic implications? Or is it not?

    On the one hand, the play is about the Gods tormenting the character. On the other hand, it is about us making free chances in the face of a dark fate. One would best argue that this is indeed an atheistic text.

  5. 5

    What Greek mythological figure besides Sisyphus is portrayed in this play and how so?

    Tantalus, who stole ambrosia from the Gods and spilled the secrets was punished. He was tied up and a branch hung over him and water was at his feet. However, he couldn’t reach either. The tree and the carafe of water make an appearance in this play as the man struggles to get his “desire” but lacks the will to get it.

  6. 6

    How does this text apply to the Myth of Sisyphus and how is it different?

    In Myth of Sisyphus, Sisyphus rolled a giant rock up a mountain only to be crushed by it. Here, the man, akin to Tantalus, wants a drink of water but is being tormented to get it. Both myths argue they choose to do their repetitive tasks, but unlike Sisyphus, Tantalus gives up (a “suicide”).

  7. 7

    What is a psychoanalytical/sexual view of this play?

    The branch of the tree of life and the carafe represent sexual objects in this play. The man’s desire to “get” them is fueled by an uncanny sex drive that eventually fails and gives up when it is denied its satisfaction.

  8. 8

    How are stage directions important in this play?

    Most of the stage directions apply to things the director needs to do for the play. The actor has less stage directions and no dialogue, but is left with an intensely physically demanding role and one that is very reactive. Therefore, the director based on the stage directions must give the actor both leeway and instruction to act and react to what is happening on set.

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