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.
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.
In Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Henry James’ The Beast In the Jungle the theme of waiting for life to come to you is apparent. Waiting as oppose to taking ambition and determining your life for yourself is a problem present in both of these works. Waiting for Godot and The Beast In the Jungle take two relatively similar stances on the theme of waiting, but they differ in the way the two works present the problem of waiting and how the problem of waiting presents their views on the world.
...comes via a boy messenger that comes at the end of each act. One of the major elements of Waiting for Godot is repetition. As such, the boy messenger says at the end of each act that Godot will not be arriving today, but he will definitely come tomorrow. This only happens twice in the play, but the audience is lead to believe that it will keep happening as long as Vladimir and Estragon wait for Godot. Incessantly waiting for someone who never shows up gives the plot of the play its entirely meaningless effect, which is critical to Beckett’s purpose of absurdism and existentialism. Vladimir comes to a realization that they will forever be waiting for Godot, and Godot is not much more than a meaningless distraction from their lives. This is the cause of a great amount of melancholy and depression in Vladimir, and this depression comes from a realization of the truth
“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.
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.
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.
“Accordingly, any interpretation that purports to know who Godot is (or is not), whether he exists whether he will ever come, whether he has ever come, or even whether he may have come without being recognized (or possibly in disguise) is, if not demonstrably wrong, at least not demonstrably right” (Hutchings 27).
“Although works of the theater of the absurd, particularly Beckett’s, are often comical, their underlying premises are wholly serious: the epistemological principle of uncertainty and the inability in the modern age to find a coherent system of meaning, order, or purpose by which to understand our existence and by which to live” (Hutchings 28).
Godot’s characters do not despair in the face of their situation, and this “perseverance remains constant throughout a body of work that, in the words of the citation awarding Beckett the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969 had ‘transmuted the destitution of modern man into his exaltation’ (qtd. in Bair 606)” (Hutchings 30).
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.