Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French Studies

Document Type



This dissertation addresses Samuel Beckett's bilingualism in an effort to understand how the author's use of language affected his writing style and depiction of gender. Beckett began writing in English, switched to French for the composition of new works for ten years, and then returned unexpectedly to English. His first English works are characterized by stylistic virtuosity, erudition, and misogyny. With Beckett's adoption of French his style became simple, spare, and cerebral. Plot structure based on a journey in early works was abandoned in favor of static situations and dialogue. Women were either ignored or viewed negatively. In 1956, Beckett returned to his mother language with All that Fall, a radio play. The setting and language are distinctively Irish, the plot is built around a trip to the train station, and the protagonist is a woman. Another play from the second English period, Happy Days, displays a more balanced synthesis of style and contains elements of both the English and French writing. It retains the French period qualities of static plot and simple language; however, it has a female protagonist who may be, in part, based on the author's mother. The study of these two plays in the context of Beckett's bilingualism shows the influence of the mother tongue on writing style and the introduction of positive depictions of women.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Jefferson Humphries