Beckett’s Waiting for Godot
To wait is an inherent part of the human existence. For this reason, Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is written for us all and for all time. The play’s appeal has not waned over time: its universal theme is as relevant today as it was in
Beckett, by presenting the absence of things, demonstrates their importance. Also, he emphasizes the importance of that which causes the absence in the beginning. Waiting is the theme that is clearly at the center of the plot of the play. The conviction of Estragon and
The play is imbued with a substantial number of allusions to Christianity. When Pozzo asks Estragon for his name, Estragon responds, “Adam” (25). The analogy here would be that Adam was thrown out of
The Christian God is a transcendent god who gives his rewards in an afterlife. In essence, Christians must “wait” for heaven in the same way Estragon and
What is the absence that Beckett uses to create, what has been called a “negative fable” (___)? Beckett’s main characters, Estragon and
The reader first gets the sense that there is an absence of time. “Time has stopped” (Beckett 24). Estragon and
Estragon: We came here yesterday.
Estragon: What did we do yesterday?
you’re about. (10)
In Act II, which is supposedly the next day, this scene is nearly repeated; Estragon asks, “And all this was yesterday, you say?” (39). It is as if there is no past at all; each days resembles the last and the next. The desired future, the arrival of Godot, never occurs. There is no sense of time anywhere in the play. Another character, Pozzo, has a watch but loses it (30). This is very representative of time’s absence in the play. The time that does exist, being one day turning into next, is incongruous or even absurd. The text claims that it is the following day, but
Pozzo: I don’t seem able . . . (long hesitation)
. . . to depart.
Estragon: Such is life. (31)
On the second day, Pozzo falls down and needs help.
The location of the play is also important to note. The entire play takes place in one spot: “A country road, A tree. Evening” (6). The play gets no more specific, except we discover that there is also a mound (7). The generic nature of the location makes it possible that this could take place feasibly anywhere in the world (outside of the desert, arctic, ect.). The scene could also take place at any time throughout history. Understanding that the play is not grounded temporally or spatially opens the possibilities broader critique of Christian society.
With the absence of temporal and spatial connectedness, there is also a complete breakdown of communication. The “void” that each character experiences is clearly individual. Estragon doesn’t recognize anything in the second act from the first (40).
Estragon: Our movements.
Estragon: Our relaxations.
Estragon: Our relaxations. (49)
This inability to communicate causes a desire for separation (40). They never do separate, as they never do anything that might be in their best interest, such as leave the tree in pursuit of other opportunities. It is comic chaos, the center of which, Godot, is absent.
Over all, the reality of the play is absurd. Not only is there no sense of time or place, but the people and things are all mistaken. When Pozzo enters in both acts, he is mistaken for Mr. Godot. Beckett makes a witty allusion, here, to the broader meaning of the play when Pozzo remarks that he is “Made in God’s image!” (15). No wonder Estragon mistook him for Godot. Godot sends a boy as a messenger at the end of each act.
Beckett, by emphasizing what is absent and its gross effects, creates an analogy for our culture. This play should not be misunderstood as an analysis of the human condition however. We, as a culture, are not imprisoned in the “void” as
Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot.
Kenner, Hugh. “A Reader’s Guide to Samuel Beckett”
Yuan, Yuan. “Representation and Absense: Paradoxical Structure
in Postmodern Texts.” Heldref Publications. 1997.
“Summary of Some Main Points From Sarte’s Existentialism and