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A Comparative Study on the View of Death between Beckett and Heidegger: Beckett’s Pessimistic Death and Heidegger’s ‘Anticipation of Death’

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2023, 36(3), pp.91-115
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama
  • Received : November 24, 2023
  • Accepted : December 7, 2023
  • Published : December 31, 2023

Sohn, Yoon-Hee 1

1동국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Previous studies of Samuel Beckett’s oeuvre have been intensively explored from an existentialist perspective, but this paper aims to investigate a comparative study on the view of death between Beckett and Heidegger. The two have some things in common. So to speak, they are interested in ontology and explore the meaning of existence, or of life. Although the view of death between the two are based on human finitude and the death of self, Heidegger and Beckett have a different view of death Death is Dasein’s ownmost possibility in Heidegger's fundamental ontology of Being and Time. Death which leads life to nothing is not just the end of life but reveals the meaning of life. The meaning of death consists in the possibility of Being (Sein). With death, Dasein (human being) stands before himself in his ownmost potentiality-for-Being. Death, as the end Dasein, is Dasein’s ownmost possibility-non-relational, certain, and as such indefinite, not to be outstripped. Moreover, Dasein’s anticipation (Vorlaufen) of his own death means an ontological possibility to recover his authentic self. In contrast, Beckett’s dramatic works are filled with a desperate plight in view of the fact that protagonists can’t find their existence. They who lacks their existential awakening do not realize the possibility-of-Being through death. Rather, protagonists wish for death to stop the pain of his existence, but death is permanently postponed to them. Beckett seems to say that your life is a death-in-life, you are not born yet until you have an existential awakening. As a result, death is Dasein’s own most possibility in Heidegger’s existential view, but in via of death Dasein can't reach the possibility-of-Being in Beckett’s pessimistic view of death.

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