William James and the idea of consciousness
An important thinker, who inspired the narrative method of Modernist writers, was the psychologist William James. James’s notion of “Stream of Consciousness” seeks to portray an individual's point of view by giving the written equivalent of the character's thought processes, either in a loose interior monologue, or in connection to his or her actions. For James there are two levels of consciousness: pre-speech level and speech level. The first represents all that is beyond communication and coincide with the stream of consciousness, while the second, is the moment of communication orally or writing.
One of the main characteristics of Woolf’s narration is the frequent use of indirect interior monologue, by which the narrative point of view is the inside of character’s mind. In this way the narrator becomes invisible and the same characters showing their feelings, thoughts and sensation directly. This technique is present in all of Woolf’s novels as, for example, in “Mrs Dalloway” in where the protagonist ‘s interior world is filtered through an impersonal narrator. Woolf’s, in fact, was interested to the impressions of the characters or rather of their subjectivity , especially female subjectivity.
The plays of Beckett are surrealistic and present man in the absurd situation of wanting to believe in God, but unable to do that and therefore to give a meaning to his life, as in his most famous play “Waiting for Godot”. This nihilistic view of life, present in all Beckett’s plays, associates him to the so-called “Theatre of the Absurd” or “Theatre of no communication”, an expression for to indicate a wide range of plays characterized by a mix of horrific or tragic images; characters caught in hopeless situations forced to do repetitive or meaningless actions; dialogue full of clichés, wordplay, and nonsense; plots cyclical or absurdly expansive. Still, although Beckett’s works are connected with the Theatre of Absurd he differentiates from it, because his plays not only find life society and life absurd, but art also.