Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot
POZZO: Wait! (He doubles up in an attempt to apply his ear to his stomach, listens.
Silence.) I hear nothing. (He beckons them to approach. Vladimir and Estragon go towards him, bend over his stomach.) Surely one should hear the tick-tick.
VLADIMIR: Silence! (All listen, bent double.)
ESTRAGON: I hear something.
VLADIMIR: It's the heart.
POZZO: (disappointed) Damnation!
ESTRAGON: Perhaps it has stopped. (Beckett 46)
If an important feature of the novelization of any genre is the element of indeterminate uncertainty (Bakhtin 7), Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot may be said to have taken novelization of drama to great heights. Throughout the play, the open-ended element that Bakhtin accrues to the dominant process of novelization (7) is found not only in Godot's ending and characters, but in every dramatic action as well. Beckett infuses each action and speech with uncertainty. A central idea of the play that this paper seeks to explore is that the need to believe that time passes in a linear direction is a consequence of the notion that this concept, the passage of time in linear fashion, lends a sense of meaning to existence. Critical essays on Godot have often highlighted particularly well-known passages in the play (Cormier & Pallister 1998:96-105, Nealon 1998:106-113), such as the ending sequence (Beckett 94), and especially poetic and intense moments where Pozzo or Vladimir expound upon important ideas and then forget them (Beckett 89, 90-91). Yet any extract from the play yields a similar haunting pattern. Taking a less-known excerpt from Act I of the play (as shown above), this paper aims to establish how the dramatic and verbal content of this scene, at that point of Act I, augments that idea that the desire to believe that time passes linearly is due to the idea's effect upon the meaning of existence, and to explore how the mechanism of parody and irony is employed to carry forth Beckett's ideas. This paper also argues that a close reading of this extract in relation to the rest of the play will prove that while it is hard to ascertain if there is irony present, because of the possibility of duplicity of meanings involved in the characters' actions, yet the signs of regressive verbal and dramatic ironies, which constantly undermine one another, ironically appear to ultimately support the argument that a constructed sense of time passage as linear gives a false sense of security and meaning for our existence.
The presence of irony in this extract is dependent upon the audience's recognition that the concept of time passing in a linear fashion helps to construct a false sense of meaning in one's existence, a point that, reiterated in the entire play, is also insidiously worked into the simple dialogue of this extract. This concept of time moving in a linear direction is vital to the idea that events do progress from one point...