Question: Discuss “Waiting for Godot” as an Absurd Play.
Absurdist elements in “Waiting for Godot”.
Introduction to the term ‘Absurd’:
The term ‘Absurd’ was first used by Martin Esslin. A bottom review of Absurdist writers take things rationally, not romantically. A critic defines Absurd as;
“The absurd presupposes a human judgement, only man can confront the disparity of experience.” For this, Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” is a masterpiece of Absurdist play. Almost nothing happens in the play, the action takes place on a stage presenting two characters; Viladimir and Estragon. The setting represents the post war era where the human existence becomes a challenging one.
Some important aspects of this drama reveals some certain points about absurdity:
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Minimal action is impossible in the world of “Waiting for Godot”. A pair of shoes, symbols of tramps are the first ones to be under notice. The first comment of Estragon, while removing his shoes, “Nothing to be done” reveals about the impossibility of action. There’s another important dialogue revealing human actions as:
“All my life, I have tried to put it from me, saying, Viladimir, be reasonable, you have not tried everything yet.”
Impossibility and futility of action is also present here in the dialogue:
Estragon: There’s nothing to show.
Lack of Identity:
Tramp’s lack of identity is prominent in Waiting for Godot. Both Viladimir and Estragon show lack of relationship and social gaps between them. The forgetfulness of Estragon makes him lacking of identity. He doesn’t remember why they are waiting until Viladimir reminds him.
Estragon: Let’s go.
Viladimir: We can’t go.
Viladimir: We’re waiting.
Estragon: For What?
Viladimir: For Godot.
Names also have existential meaning in Waiting for Godot. The purpose of having names is to show the uniqueness of identity which Estragon lacks in pronunciation of Pozzo’s name.
Pozzo: I am Pozzo.
Viladimir: Ah! Pozzo. Let me say, Pozzo.
Meaninglessness of Life:
The passing of time for these two characters is the indication of boredom of humanity from activities. Both, Estragon and Viladimir question each other, contradict, abuse and again reconcile with each other. In the first act, Estragon takes off his boots, shakes them as there may fall something from them, but nothing happens.
Theater of Absurd and Waiting for Godot:
Samuel Beckett had one of the largest contribution in the theater of absurd. This play, Waiting for Godot, also belong to the same category because it fulfills all the requirements for absurdity. There are some points discussed below:
> Lack of plot or story:
Waiting for Godot doesn’t tell any story about the characters. They (characters) do not go anywhere, remain in the same place and utter meaningless sentences.
> Lack of characterization:
Characters’ past is unknown in the play and are directly introduced to the audience. Only their names and their miserable life is presented.
>No proper beginning and end:
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The play has no beginning and end. It starts with a situation and ends same with it. Even the acts have same kind of situations. “Waiting” is the key in the play which shows a journey from nothingness to nothingness.
Most of the play’s dialogue serve no purpose, especially Lucky’s speech, highly symbolic but apparently no meaning. Action loses its importance because of unworthy dialogues, and are just to written to pass the time.
So, by analyzing these points in detail, we can conclude that Samuel Beckett’s contribution in theater of absurd is highly prominent through his play “Waiting for Godot”. Eventually, World War II has also a major part in the play where human existence is missing and now they are in alienation.
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