An essay on Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot
An essay on Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot

An essay on Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 6 (1494 words)
  • Published: November 30, 2017
  • Type: Essay
View Entire Sample
Text preview

When it comes to writing an essay about Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, there isn't a perfect opening sentence. Through my research on the play, I've gradually realized this. A brief summary may suffice: two vagabonds wait at a tree for Godot, who ultimately never arrives. This premise seems straightforward enough, even to a child. However, the truth is that Waiting for Godot is far from basic. For a new reader, it offers a maelstrom of perplexity, exploration, and awe.

When it comes to examining how Beckett deals with the concept of time in his play, the task can be overwhelming. Questions arise such as: how to make sense of it? Whose interpretation is correct (if any)? How to articulate these ideas into tangible language? How to effectively convey them on the pages... Beginning with the task of filling the pages may serve as a helpful starting point.



kett's play Godot features characters who spend their time waiting, leading the audience to wonder why the play was written at all. While incorporating elements of Absurdist non-realism and lack of chronological order, Beckett goes beyond expectations of traditional plays by omitting plot, recognizable settings, and development of setting. The two main characters, Vladimir and Estragon, are trapped in inaction which generates both farcical clowning and philosophical lamenting.

The absence of development in the play leads to the conclusion that the waiting that it depicts is comparable to human existence without a traditional storyline. Beckett removes Vladimir and Estragon from normal life and subjects them to a test, which ironically is much more arduous than what people typically perceive as challenging. The characters endure immense frustration as their surrounding

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

become indistinct and time seems to blend together, exemplified by the slow growth of leaves on a tree over the play's two-day duration.

Before delving into the character's relationship with time in the play, it is essential to analyze how they perceive their situation. The two vagrants appear to have lost their sense of time and its significance. Their minds are preoccupied with waiting, almost making it a specific activity to avoid acknowledging the passage of time and experiencing emptiness. The fictional character Godot serves as their hope, which also creates a potential source of drama for the audience. Their concept of time and place is blurred as evidenced by Estragon's futile attempt at clarification; pondering over what day it is and putting the play outside the temporal reality yet seemingly immersed in its categories.

The division of human life into time segments is crucial, as removing them would lead to madness initially, followed by an eventual realization that life can exist without numerical and temporal constraints. The tramps' perception of time and place provides a strange comfort as they divert their focus to waiting for Godot, ultimately forgetting about time and settling into their own little world. This act of lunacy allows them to avoid the consciousness of isolation and deprivation, but the isolation experienced by Vladimir and Estragon remains horrific.

The presentation of our lives is without the external objects and purposes that we use to create meaning and structure, leaving us naked and bare. We have constructed the distractions of everyday life to avoid confronting the passing of time. It can be unsettling to hear a ticking clock and wonder where time goes, especially

when waiting. Although life's events give our existence meaning, the waiting period between birth and death is significant. Comfort is found in the knowledge that there is an end to the waiting, even if hope is the only solace we have until then.

While it may not be accurate when it comes to our inevitable demise, the notion holds true for certain occurrences in our lives. Pain and distress may come to an end, and although fictional, Godot may make an appearance - but hopefulness remains constant. When hope is lost, life becomes a dreary actuality. Vladimir and Estragon will never stop waiting, and suicide is the only option they have yet lack the fortitude or drive to pursue. Their anguished dispositions emulate those of numerous figures in Beckett's dramas.

Devoid of any sociological context or physical gadgets, these individuals become frantic. Their world's emptiness and sparseness have driven them to become mindless beings who fill their time with trivial, nonsensical conversations and clownish behavior. Despite being disconnected from social norms and possessing an entirely pessimistic philosophy, the tramps still manage to elicit laughter from their audience. The humor produced by these fools is not true humor, as it merely provides a brief respite from the darker underlying issues at hand. Although the audience applauds and the tramps momentarily forget their struggles, no one truly feels satisfied.

According to critics, the play's minimalistic stage and lack of a script give it a sense of emptiness that the characters must fill with their own interpretation. The audience must also look beyond the surface and search for meaning within the play. The modern Absurdist quality of Godot provides a challenge

to all.

In various scenes throughout, the play emphasizes the world's constant absurdity. One instance is seen when Pozzo, the master, restrains Lucky, the slave, on a leash. Despite carrying a heavy suitcase, Lucky never falters and can only speak his lengthy, disjointed monologue while wearing his hat and only when commanded to think by Pozzo. This blend of Absurdist principles and tortured individuals prove to be a successful combination.

The play's lack of chronological order, minimalist setting, and disjunctive language result in a cumulative effect that blurs the viewers' perception of the action and subject of Godot - waiting and time. Additionally, the characters' perceptions are intentionally made cloudy, creating what critics refer to as the 'sfumato' effect. For instance, when Estragon remarks "We should have thought about it a million years ago, in the nineties," the phrase "a million years ago" signifies not just a long time ago but the loss of all perspective on time. This loss of perspective adds a timeless dimension to the play, making its issues relevant throughout history. To limit the play to a specific period would undermine this effect.

The actual events in Godot have been confused and chaotic, with no clear sequence to follow. This intentional lack of structure keeps the audience focused on the main themes of the play, rather than wondering what happens next. The two acts follow a similar repetitive pattern with minor changes, emphasizing the unchanging nature of the characters and their world. Time is indistinguishable, and chaos reigns throughout.

Every night, Estragon suffers physical abuse but he never exhibits any visible injuries or recounts any explicit details. The play seems to feature a

world populated by characters such as Lucky and Pozzo, who are supposedly traveling to a fair. However, the audience is left frustrated as they never make it to their destination. In Act 2, Pozzo is inexplicably blinded and Lucky has lost his ability to speak. Beckett does not focus on exploring the plot; even the anticipation of Godot's arrival dissipates early on as Vladimir and Estragon engage in aimless arguments about where they should wait.

Beckett's Waiting for Godot examines time from a scientific perspective, specifically through the theories of cyclical time and linear time. Bert O. States delves into these concepts in his essay on the play, noting that Vladimir and Estragon's actions illustrate cyclical time while Pozzo and Lucky follow linear time. According to States, the play's time scheme combines both cyclical repetition and linear progression, resulting in the characters' actions forming imaginary circles that move forward in one direction towards the play's conclusion.

Although it may appear credible, the view that Pozzo and Lucky are progressing towards a destination in Waiting for Godot can be easily discredited. This is due to the fact that they have made no progress in reaching the nearby fair by the end of the play. Alternatively, it is theorized that Pozzo and Lucky are circling Vladimir and Estragon, existing in a universe that may or may not be genuine and functional. Despite being mobile and relatively sane, they are trapped in a limbo between madness and isolation, as well as association and sanity. Therefore, Waiting for Godot offers a fascinating portrayal and conclusion of the human condition. The play highlights the commonality of waiting amongst all people,

suggesting that the concept of time being meaningless is a universal experience.

If someone constantly anticipates an event, the periods of waiting become insignificant and if it does occurs, the cycle repeats. If the event never happens, all time becomes a pointless wait. Either way, one is stuck in a phase where time holds no value and waiting is the sole objective. Waiting for Godot highlights this concept as the protagonists wait without any remarkable events occurring. Therefore, time holds little to no importance or purpose. Ultimately, Beckett's Godot may even drive someone insane.

Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds