Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The issue of "failure" in the writing of Samuel Beckett is one critics have turned to again and again. Taking up this issue, as introduced by Beckett in "Three Dialogues," this study argues through a reading of Beckett's fiction of the 'forties and 'fifties that the "failure" of Beckett and his narrators is of a highly specific sort and must be understood in the context of the sociopolitical structure depicted in the fiction. This political structure, which is characterized here as "paternalistic," is much the same as that in which Beckett wrote and in which we read his fiction. Beckett's world as depicted in his fiction, this study maintains, is repressively and violently paternalistic, demanding the conformity and submission of human subjects and leaving no room for difference. To "fail" within this context, as Beckett's narrators do, is to fail to conform to the demands of paternalistic society, and to fail knowingly and deliberately is to form a critique of this society.

In this study, then, Beckett's fiction is read as social critique. His humour is seen as having specific targets and serious implications. Like the parodies and

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