Waiting for Godot, Hollow Men and Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock


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Compare Waiting for Godot, Hollow Men and Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

 

      Life is occupied by waiting.  In Waiting for Godot, Samuel Becket

presents the suffering of the human condition.  Godot is about two beings

who talk about nothing, experience the drudgery of life, complain that they

do not do anything, meet a few people, think about hanging themselves, and

then do it all over again.  The existentialist style by Godot is comparable

to T.S. Eliot's works.  Eliot's Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, and Hollow

Men are about the tormenting cycle of life and death.  The connection among

these three works is that people want to and should do so much, but they do

not.

 

      Waiting for Godot takes place in a rural area, with just a tree in

the background.  The two friends Vladimir and Estragon talk aimlessly and

complain about life.  They consider hanging themselves, but realize before

they do that they should consult with Godot.  Who or what Godot symbolizes

remains a mystery, but their whole existence seems to be to wait for Godot.

They meet a couple of fellows: Pozzo, an upper-class man, mistaken by

Vladimir and Estragon as Godot, and Pozzo's slave, Lucky.  After they leave,

a messenger from Godot arrives and states simply that Godot will arrive

tomorrow, same place, same time.  They consider leaving, but do not.  The

second act is almost an exact repeat of the first, but Lucky and Pozzo have

fallen upon hard times.  Pozzo has become blind and pathetic, and Lucky has

become dumb.  This change in events is a direct point of life being

terrific one moment, and worthless the next.  Godot never shows up.  The

play ends with the two considering to go somewhere, but they do not.

 

      The similarity of this play to Eliot's poem is remarkable.  Eliot's

Love Song is in the first person point of view, and this person refers to "

you," who is probably a woman.  It is about a man who want to do so much -

be with pretty woman, make something of his life.  His flaws are many,

though.  He realizes he is getting balder and more wrinkled.  His prowess

with women is deteriorating and this disturbs him.

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  Life is going away and

he is no Prince Hamlet.  So he does nothing, and that is the major flaw.

He just lets life suck everything from him and take away everything he

could have done.  Like in Godot, there is so much that can be done, but an

excuse is always found.  Vladimir and Estragon have to wait for Godot.

Prufrock is too old, too good for nothing, so it is safer to just do

nothing.  This aspect of the human condition of just going through the

motions is the easy way out, and both  Beckett and Eliot want to illustrate

that if one does not live life to it's fullest, maybe one should not even

live at all.

 

      In Hollow Men, Eliot maintains that life is hollow, and death is

inevitable.  The cycle from birth to death is just a natural process that

does not matter and does not make a difference in the large scheme of

things.  Hollow Men says life is just a wait for the final destruction in

which there is an endless succession of births and deaths.  This infinite

sequence means nothing, since man will not find what he seeks.  He is blind

physically and spiritual, and salvation is unattainable.  Comparably to

Godot, the sequence of waiting is the theme.  This eternal waiting is what

makes the human condition so deplorable and they also attest that existence

is nonexistence.

 

      The finality of life and the futility of it all is the tenor in

Godot and T.S. Eliot's work.  Both deal with the frivolity of life, and the

moral "being is suffering."  The message that appears from them is to do

something with life, otherwise it will end up how it started - nothingness.


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