Existentialist Reflection in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot Essay

Existentialist Reflection in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot Essay

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- What you waiting for?
-I'm waiting for Godot
This little dialogue sums up this piece of Nobel prize winning author Samuel Beckett's most popular absurdist play, Waiting For Godot, which is one of the first examples of Theatre of the Absurd. It begins with two lonely tramps on a roadside who are awaiting the arrival of a figure referred to as Godot and ends with the same scene. The sheer emptiness and randomness of the plot causes the audience (or the reader) to wonder if anything is going to happen, and whether there is any meaning in anything in the play – or in life. With this inaction and absurdity of main characters’ behaviour, Samuel Beckett promotes existentialists’ biggest issue: is religion or any ‘supreme’ being bringing meaning to life, or rather are individuals supposed to find a purpose to life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility?

The above mentioned two lonely tramps are Vladimir and Estragon. Vladimir represents the part of humanity who trusts in religion and spiritual beliefs to guide them, and Estragon represents the idealists: throughout the play he is the one who suggests to leave, stop waiting and construct the meaning of life based on experience:
Vladimir: Let’s wait and see what he says.
Estragon: Who?
Vladimir: Godot.
Estragon: Good idea.
Vladimir: Let’s wait till we know exactly how we stand.
Estragon: On the other hand it might be better to strike the iron before it freezes.
Here we see that Vladimir is depending on Godot to tell him what he needs to know regarding his existence, while Estragon asserts that they do not have the time to wait and that they should take action on their own before it is too late. The metaphor of the cooling the iron suggests that they do not ha...


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...nswer and repetition throughout the play to highlight the meaningless of such inactive waiting. In the second Act they admit that these habits prevent them from analyzing the situation they found themselves in, and Vladimir expresses this idea by the end of the play: 'Habit is a great deadener', suggesting that habit is like numbing and distarcting the individual.

All in all, at first shocking with its lack of plot, the play Waiting for Godot proves to have much more deeper, existentionalist meaning and it challenges everyone to bear the responsibility for their own existence, since waiting for a salvation from an external, supernatural force may be as pointless as Estrogen’s and Vladimir’s endless waiting for the mysterious Godot.
A Readers Guide to Samuel Beckett - Hugh Kenner
Waiting For Godot - York Notes
The theatre of Tom Stoppard – Anthony Jenkins

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