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Finding Meaning In Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot

1130 words - 5 pages

Samuel Beckett, the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature 1969 , was the Irish playwright of the well-known absurdist play, Waiting for Godot. This tragicomedy, being one of the most popular written in the 20th century, was translated from French to English by Beckett himself and has only two acts. As the title insinuates, this stupendous piece of work is based on two friends’ endless wait for someone named Godot. Beckett’s portrayal of one mute and three dynamic characters, out of six, restricts a ground for foreshadowing to some extent and makes it even more difficult for the audience to make sense of the plot, wherein the characters’ lives seem to be meaningless. Additionally, the protagonists, Vladimir and Estragon repeatedly talk of and question each other about parting one another but never do and to be more specific, Estragon shows a greater dependency towards Vladimir. His choice to go back and remain with Vladimir is what adds meaning to his life because on his own, he could literally end up dying so this choice of his is what creates a purpose to his life in the absurd and meaningless world and this choice leads to the whole ‘wait’ for Godot in this drama.
First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge that hardly any information on the characters’ lives can be derived from the plot and if any, it is has been stated in a rather vague manner. Beckett has repeatedly mentioned the protagonists’ pasts and left the rest for the audience to ponder upon. In the first few lines Vladimir talks of their past, “…We were respectable those days…” (23). Also in the second act, when he talks of what they used to do for a living in a place which he refers to as Macon Country; “…I could swear to it! Picking grapes for a man called…” (1022). This has left lots of room for assumption and conjecture and as a result, many interpretations of the play have been made in various aspects; political, social, philosophical, etc. Amidst these hints, the reader also gets the idea that Vladimir and Estragon committed some sort of crime or sin, for which Vladimir suggests repentance but Beckett avoided elaborating on it, perhaps to inflict suspense; “Oh…(He reflects.) We wouldn’t have to go into the details.” (52). Most importantly, the identity of Godot has not been revealed throughout the play, nor has the purpose for which the tramps await him. However, considering Estragon himself, this whole wait is seems to be the purpose of his existence.
Of the two protagonists, Vladimir’s nature seems to negate that of the rest of the characters. People tend to overlook his personality and think of him as a tramp and that may be so, but Vladimir pretends to be someone he is not. It is clear that he is the smarter one of the two and also has a better memory, but he seems to have hidden something about himself. Apart from what has not been mentioned, Vladimir ‘plays along’ with the absurdity during their first interaction in the Play. Right after Pozzo and Lucky...

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