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
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. 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
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.