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Gerontion as Hero: Aging and Death as Cultural Symbols in Beckett’s Writings

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Title: Gerontion as Hero: Aging and Death as Cultural Symbols in Beckett’s Writings
Authors: Kahele, Patricia
Issue Date: 15 Jan 2014
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: The title of T.S. Eliot's poem "Gerontion" derives its name from the Greek word "Jeportior," the diminutive of "Jepwr," "old man," hence meaning "little old man."1 The works of Samuel Beckett abound with little old men: decrepit souls like Hamm and Clov who sit in "decayed houses," or like Vladimir and Estragon who "would they saw a sign" along some deserted country road. Beckett's women fare no better: entrapped within physical barriers, little old maids like Winnie and Nell can no longer "keep the house" or even "make tea. " Beckett's heroes, greying and ashen, are all but "lost of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. " Enshrouded within a veil of death, their world appears always to be on the verge of complete annihilation-- and yet they go on. They cannot help but go on. This may at first seem perplexingly paradoxical, however, when observed from a Spenglerian point of view (that is, a view which observes world history as being an organic and cyclical occurrence) it is found that the "old man in a dry month" can be identified. To understand this winter world, it is necessary to treat Beckett's recurrent themes of death and aging as cultural symbols.
Pages/Duration: 31 pages
Rights: All UHM Honors Projects are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Honors Projects for English

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