Waiting for Godot
Waiting for Godot is an absurdist play written by Samuel Beckett. It covers many different social aspects that the author wanted to highlight and bring into publicity.
First of all, the characters and their costumes remind Charlie Chaplin’s ones. Both characters, Vladimir and Estragon, are dressed as tramps, their costumes are pretty similar that’s why they can exchange with each other. Moreover, they are wearing bid bowler hats, bid boots not necessarily matching their real foot size and big baggy trousers – all there elements can be found in the appearance of Charlie Chaplin. Hence, Estragon and Vladimir are burlesque characters and give to the play the shade of comedy. Beckett provides his heroes with some comic routines that they try to perform as often as it is possible to create the visibility of being constantly busy and in motion. For example, we can see that Estragon’s problem with the boots is shown throughout the whole play: in the first act, Estragon is struggling with the boots and puts them off because they are too tight, in the second act, he is trying to put them on but they appear to be either his size or even too big. For the whole play he remains barefooted and even mentions Jesus saying that he was barefooted too. The conversation of the heroes and their actions seem to be meaningless and this lack of reason gives a comic effect. The resemblance of Estragon’s and Vladimir’s costumes to the “Little Tramp” of Charlie Chaplin shows that they are outcasts of the society and cannot be treated as an individual with all the respect.
The characters portrayed in the play can be called anti-heroes and I would like to name reasons for that. As it was previously mentioned, they are tramps, outcasts of society that pay no attention to them at all. Their only goal is to wait for Godot without any prospect of success, each and every day the same as the previous one. The author shows that there is nothing heroic in his characters: Estragon is presented as a coward who suffers from nightmares and is too weak to protect himself from the other people, and, as a result, is constantly gets beaten; he needs care and protection from Vladimir and cannot do without him. As an example, Beckett tells a story when Estragon threw himself into the river and was saved by his friend:
Do you remember the day I threw myself into the Rhone?
We were grape harvesting.
You fished me out (Beckett Act 1).
Vladimir is presented as a different person that is more intelligent than his friend; he is less pathetic and tries to save his dignity comparing to Estragon. Moreover, he is trying to change the situation with the help of mysterious Godot, however, somewhere very deep he understands that everything is hopeless. His feeling of helplessness makes him an anti-hero; he even accepts the idea of committing suicide as the only way out.
He said Saturday. (Pause.) I think.
I must have made a note of it. (He fumbles in his pockets, bursting with miscellaneous rubbish.)
(very insidious). But what Saturday? And is it Saturday? Is it not rather Sunday? (Pause.) Or Monday? (Pause.) Or Friday? (Beckett Act 1).
The existential idea of meaningless of life is visible through the whole play. The heroes attempt to commit suicide, Vladimir regrets not doing it earlier:
Hand in hand from the top of the Eiffel Tower, among the first. We were respectable in those days. Now it's too late. They wouldn't even let us up (Beckett Act 1).
The ides of death is following the main heroes, they keep thinking of the ways to stop the vicious circle they are in.
Further, I would like to compare Lucky and Pozzo with the characters by Moliere. It is worth mentioning that Beckett closely follows the tradition of a classic comedy that is represented by Moliere. Beckett portrays Vladimir as an intellectual, the one who thinks and reflects the situation; Estragon, on the contrary, has troubles understanding the event appropriately. The pair Lucky and Pozzo represents one of the most important ideas of Moliere – they show lack of understanding between the representatives of the society. Both Moliere and Beckett show that their characters shout to each other but they cannot be heard and understood. They are blind towards each other. Lucky and Pozzo are indivisible, they are one single part: the master and the servant, the blind and his guide, the mute and the one who is a voice for him. If we compare Beckett’s Lucky and Pozzo to the Buchner’s ones, we can see that both authors provided outcasts of society to let the reader have a different view. The reader should remove himself from society in order to understand not only Buchner’s heroes but also Lucky and Pozzo that cannot be perceived in a normal way taking into account that influence of the society.
Beckett clearly shows a connection to Christianity as well. He draws a parallel with the God and the story from the Gospels about two thieves that symbolizes Estragon and Vladimir themselves. The author is playing with the name Godot that has an obvious connection to God; therefore, our characters are waiting for the God, in vain. They keep waiting with a belief that he will come and offer something to them that is worth waiting:
I'm curious to hear what he has to offer. Then we'll take it or leave it (Beckett Act 1)..
The role of Christianity is rather important since it keeps the characters in following to achieve their aim. They constantly repeat their main goal – to wait until Godot comes to them at last, he is the only reason they continue living. In my opinion, the author mentions Christianity with some king of sympathy or even nostalgia remembering old times when religion played more important role than in present times.
I would like to point out the extreme number of repetitions that are used in the play. Both heroes are doing repeating actions: Estragon keeps examining his boot or complaints about it and Vladimir constantly takes off the hat, looks inside it, blows in it. However, it is not only related to the repeating patterns of characters’ behavior, but also to the repetition of stylistic units. I have noticed that the main heroes keep forgetting the reason for being at their place but they go on with the phrase “We are waiting for Godot”. This phrase is bearing the whole idea of the play, brings it the required importance. The way our heroes are talking about Godot is the way they are talking about the actual God. A constant repetition of the same idea makes it sound of a greater importance, makes both the characters and the reader believe in it. As a structural device, repetition helps the heroes to remember the flow of conversation, fill out the moments of silence and smudge the edges between completely different topics. This helps to create a unified body of the story.
In my opinion, Waiting for Godot is a completely new, revolutionary kind of theater. It makes the audience think and refrain from their emotions in order to treat the symbols in the most possible way. The theater of absurd can be understood only by intelligent and well-equipped audience that is seeking for alternative ways of representation of the reality. I do not think that the traditional theater will disappear since the absurdist plays are clear only for a narrow audience and put on publicity very painful for society questions.
On balance, I would like to say that Waiting for Godot is a perfect example of the absurdist play that should be analyzed in terms of the context and the main idea it conveys. It can have a number of interpretations on various topics that finally become one multilevel unit.
Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot: Tragicomedy in 2 Acts. New York: Grove, 1954. Print. Web. 8 Nov. 2014. <http://learning.qsishenzhen.org/pluginfile.php/31473/mod_resource/content/1/WaitingforGodotScript.pdf>.