As I previously mentioned, literature is almost always a reflection of the vibes and ideas of the times it was written. Isn’t it interesting then, that during the twentieth century, a time with of such cultural and social vitality, one of the most famous and influential plays of the period is commonly is commonly considered to be a ‘play about nothing’? I’m talking of course about Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot. The stage is set to desolate, unfamiliar and strangely empty scene, where the audience waits with the plays main characters Vladimir and Estragon (nicknames Didi and Gogo respectively) for the arrival of a mysterious figure named ‘Godot’ The entire lack of plot is driven only by entertainingly nonsensical dialogue and the hope that Godot’s arrival will bring purpose and meaning to the lives of the characters and by extension, the play itself.
How then, does this ‘lack of meaning’ reflect the twentieth century? Written in 1953, Waiting for Godot teeters on the knife-edge between the end of modernism and the beginning of post modernist era. You might say that the play exists in an uncertain limbo of literary definition, just as Didi and Gogo exist in an uncertain limbo the play. One might also theorise that Beckett is using the lack of plot to make a point that despite all the massive advancements and changes that the twentieth century brought, no more meaning has been added to life. Just as the play itself is confusing, so too has the advent of science, technology, feminism, socialism and psychoanalysis complicated real life, making meaning even harder to find. In this case, Waiting For Godot is devoid of plot but rich in meaning. This idea sparked the strange notion that the figure of Godot might represent “tomorrow” ...
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...nother in ways that do not follow the logic of conversation. Drastic U-turns in subject matter or deliberately random responses throw the audience off to great comic effect. This comedic trait mirrors and accentuates the meaningless absurdity of the play, it is a frustrating kind of humor that leaves the audience simultaneously annoyed and amused that Didi, Gogo, Pozzo and Lucky cannot even find certainty in conversation. For example:
Estragon: (Chewing). I asked you a question.
Estragon: Did you reply?
Vladimir: How’s the carrot?
Estragon: It’s a carrot.
Though non-sequiturs had been used in literature before, Beckets relentless and unique use of them in Waiting for Godot inspired their use in surrealist and absurd theater to increase immensely. One of the many ways, this strange and confusing play, apparently about nothing, has influenced literature.
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