Freedom To Choose In Waiting For Godot, Slaughterhouse Five, And Iraq

1541 words - 6 pages

Praises resound around the world everyday in admiration of man's magnificent creation, technology. Scientific progress has been hailed the number one priority of man, while the development of society itself has been cast aside like an old beta vcr. When surrounded by a constant herd of machinery, finding purpose in life is often overshadowed by a desire to continually generate new scientific inventions. In the post-war classics Waiting for Godot and Slaughterhouse Five, the authors rally for meaning within the chaos of technology and stress the importance of "a possibility of choice"(Sartre 339). In addition to improved technology, Vonnegut and Beckett emphasize that members of society need to attach significance to their lives through the use of free will.

Through his dramatic contribution to the "theater of the absurd," Samuel Beckett
abandoned the conventions of the classical play to concentrate on his important message to humanity. Using his pathetic characters, Estragon and Vladimir, Beckett illustrates the importance of human free will in a land ruled by science and technology. He understood the terrors of progress as he witnessed first hand the destruction caused by technologically-improved weapons working as a spy during WWII. In his tragicomedy, Estragon and Vladimir spend the entire time futilely waiting for Godot to arrive. They believe that this mysterious Godot will help them solve their problems and merely sit and wait for their solution to arrive. Beckett utilizes these characters to warn the reader of the dangers of depending on fate and others to improve one's existence. He supports this idea when Estragon blames his boots and not himself for the pain in his feet, and Vladimir responds, "There's man all over for you, blaming on his boots the faults of his feet." (Beckett 4).

The characters fritter away time by discussing the uselessness of their situation and telling each other stories, but they fail to accomplish anything. They repeat the phrases "Nothing you can do about it. No use struggling. One is what one is" throughout the play, emphasizing their faith in the absolute power of fate and use this as an excuse to their laziness and unhappiness (17).

Even when they contemplate suicide, they cannot decide who should hang himself first, and end stating "don't let's do anything. It's safer" (13). This parallels man's corruption by scientific inventions as the technological revolution robbed many of a sense of control over their lives. After creations like the atomic bomb and improved weaponry wiped out entire cities, man began to view his life as a hopeless existence at the mercy of "progress." People began to believe that their actions were futile against the immense power of science. Although these two characters think they avoid harm through their inactivity, Beckett affirms that they miss out on possible happiness by taking this easy route. Although they do make a conscious decision to...

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