March 9, 2017 - mh9868a

Commonplace 7: Coping with Failure

In his story “Worstward Ho,” Nobel prize winning writer Samuel Beckett once wrote, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” The idea of failing better is interesting because as a successful writer, one would not consider the fact that Beckett failed at some point in his life or career. However, Beckett is trying to say that everyone fails, but people need to learn to move on from their failures. Everybody is afraid to fail, but the way people handle failure is what sets them apart. Beckett is saying that when a person fails, he should get right back up and try again. For Beckett, those who try again handle failure in the most effective way. Samuel Beckett conveys his opinions of failure by using the punctuation he thought would best fit.

Beckett uses short, simple sentences to get his effectively get his point across. Short and simple sentences usually grab a reader’s attention. They are meant to force a reader to be thoughtful about the concept as opposed to just reading whatever explanation the author wrote. When audiences read this quote with the abrupt sentences, they can sense the urgency but are left to come up with their own meaning. If this quote was not written in short sentences, then it would have a completely different context. If this quote was written in a DC, IC form, then the audience would have a different interpretation. The quote would lose its sense of urgency, and be more of a complete thought. The complexity of the sentence would take away from an audience’s initial interpretations of the idea Beckett is trying to convey. Also, changing the punctuation of the quote would change its meaning. If question marks were added after the first two lines, then the quote would be telling people how to react to failure. The reaction is not what Beckett finds important. Instead, Beckett believes that failure is a necessary part of live that everyone experiences. Therefore, he is encouraging people to handle failure in a positive way. Furthermore, adding exclamation points to the last two lines would change the quote’s meaning in a different way. Adding exclamation points would make the quote more positive and enthusiastic. Again, this slight punctuational change would corner the audience into interpreting the quote in a specific way. Overall, Samuel Beckett chose his punctuation specifically to convey the urgency of his idea without influencing audience interpretation.

A photo of Beckett’s famous quote.

Commonplace Book commonplace / failure / wrtg101s17 /

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