Samuel Beckett was Nobel Prize winning author, a modernist, the last true modernist according to many.
Samuel Beckett wrote Waiting for Godot between October 1948 and January 1949. Since its premiere in January of 1953, it has befuddled and confounded critics and audiences alike. Some find it to be a meandering piece of drivel; others believe it to be genius. Much of the strain between the two sides stems from one simple question. What does this play mean? Even within camps where Waiting for Godot is heralded, the lack of clarity and consensus brings about a tension and discussion that has lasted over sixty years.
The Portrayal of the Theatre of the Absurd
Throughout literature, much has been assumed and gathered about the state of man and his purpose in life. Different poets, novelists, and playwrights have employed the powerful tools of language to broadcast their respective statement to the literate world. Many authors stand out for their overly romanticized or horribly pessimistic notations on life, but only Samuel Beckett stands out for his portrayal of absence. As Democritus, a Greek philosopher, noted, "nothing is more real than nothing," a quote which became one of Beckett's favorites and an inspiration for his masterful plays (Hughes 1).
Absurdism, a very well known term in the era of modern theatre has played a very significant role in the field of dramas. It’s significance and its presence in the modern theatre has created all together a different and a specific area in the world of theatre widely known as “the theater of the absurd”. Theatre of absurd was given its place in 1960’s by the American critic Martin Esslin. In a thought to make the audiences aware that there is no such true order or meaning in the world of their existence. It’s an attempt to bring the audiences closer to the reality and help them understand their own meaning in life.
How Does Beckett Use Time and Repetition in Waiting For Godot to Represent The Never Ending Cycles in Life?
“Waiting For Godot” by Samuel Beckett in it's absurdity has managed to capture the human condition in all it's madness in a way that holds most true to our everyday lives. The Waiting in this play holds many purposes because we wait for so many things in our lives and as Estragon and Vladimir demonstrate, one of the most significant things we wait for is what is in store for us in all our hoping, wishing and faith in others. Faith we are both cling to and are cautious of. Never the less the faith holds strong and we'll continue to wait with the fear that if we stopped waiting and gave up hope we'd miss out on great, possibly life changing opportunities. We ponder the options available to us like death, our past and present condition. In his play we're introduced to the offspring of a Monty Python skit and the Three Stooges without Mo, in Vladimir and Estragon as our Carl and Larry in their witty half-witlessness. The aristocratic Pozzo and his slave Lucky represent many of the ties to authoritative persons in our lives. They manage to present us with life and people and show us how truly silly it can be in a unorthodox manner that takes a bit of thinking before you appreciate it for the accuracy it holds.
We live on a planet revolving around the sun, while there are at least about one septillion other stars in this universe. What is the significance of our existence in this infinite cosmos? What is the purpose of our lives? With the explosion of scientific knowledge and the WWII bombs in the modernity epoch, the insignificance of our lives was realized; Samuel Becket staged the futility of human existence in the play Waiting for Godot. He portrayed nothingness through the use of structure, language, dialogue, and setting. He further demonstrated that the lives of the two characters Vladimir and Estragon takes meaning when they wait for the ambiguous Godot. In order to be relieved from the crippling question of existence, they occupy themselves with meaningless activities. Due to the lack of a plot in Waiting for Godot, one can deduce that perhaps Beckett is referring to the futility of human existence in general.
Irish-born French author Samuel Beckett was well known for his use of literary devices such as black comedy in his various literary works. Written during late 1948 and early 1949 and premiered as a play in 1953 as En attendant Godot, Beckett coupled these devices with minimalism and absurdity in order to create the tragicomedy known to English speakers as Waiting for Godot. True to its title, Waiting for Godot is the tale of a pair of best friends known as Vladimir (Didi) and Estragon (Gogo) who are waiting for the character the audience comes to know as Godot to appear. Throughout Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett alludes to the monotheistic religion of Christianity through symbols, dialogue, and characters to reveal the heavy invisible influence of God in the daily life of man.
Humans spend their lives searching and creating meaning to their lives, Beckett, however, takes a stand against this way of living in his novel ‘Waiting for Godot’. He questions this ideal of wasting our lives by searching for a reason for our existence when there is not one to find. In his play, he showcases this ideology through a simplistic and absence of setting and repetitious dialogue. Beckett’s ability to use these key features are imperative to his ability of conveying his message of human entrapment and existence.
Although Samuel Beckett's tragicomedy, Waiting for Godot, has no definite meaning or interpretation, the play acts as a statement of hopelessness regarding human existence. Debate surrounds the play because, due to its simplicity, almost any interpretation is valid. The main characters, Vladimir and Estragon, are aging men who must wait for a person, being, or object named Godot, but this entity never appears to grace the men with this presence. Both characters essentially demonstrate how one must go through life when hope is nonexistent as they pointlessly attempt to entertain themselves with glum conversation in front of a solitary tree. The Theater of the Absurd, a prevalent movement associated with Waiting for Godot, serves as the basis for the message of hopelessness in his main characters. Samuel Beckett's iconic Waiting for Godot and his perception of the characteristics and influence of the Theater of the Absurd illustrate the pointlessness and hopelessness regarding existence. In the play, boredom is mistaken for hopelessness because the men have nothing to do, as they attempt to occupy themselves as, for some reason, they need to wait for Godot. No hope is present throughout the two-act play with little for Estragon and Vladimir to occupy their time while they, as the title indicates, wait for Godot.