Repository logo

Beckett's Vessels and the Animation of Containers

Change log


Hunter Dukes 


Samuel Beckett's novels and plays are filled with lively vessels: emergent sites of subjectivity that blur the borderline between the human and nonhuman. When Malone Dies is read next to anthropological theories of the homunculus, a protocol of container animation emerges. Vital to this process is André Breton's image of the communicating vessels, a visual metaphor Beckett revises in The Unnamable. By adopting material containers as surrogate bodies, or by imagining life in hollow vessels, Beckett's characters encounter a self that exceeds the limits of the body—a form of projective identification that anticipates psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion's theorizing of the “container-contained.”



Samuel Beckett, communicating vessels, animation, containment, nonhuman

Journal Title

Journal of Modern Literature

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Indiana University Press