Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot Essay

1655 words - 7 pages

In Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot, the scene opens to reveal a world characterized by bleakness. Though occasional situational humor enters the lives of Estragon and Vladimir, it is a sarcastic, ironic sort of humor that seems to mock the depressing situation in which they find themselves, and moments of hopefulness are overshadowed by uncertainty. The two merely sit and wait; they wait for a man, perhaps a savior, named Godot. That they are waiting for Godot, as Vladimir says, is the one certain thing, the one clear thing “in this immense confusion” (91). Throughout the course of the play, however, Godot never appears. It is uncertain that he ever will. In fact, Vladimir and Estragon are not exactly sure who this Godot is, what he is like, what would happen if he came, or if he indeed even exists, as they have not seen him but only hear that he will come. Yet they still wait, sometimes hoping, sometimes doubting, that Godot will appear, and that something, though they are unsure of what it is, will happen.

Godot may be seen as an allegorical figure representing Christ, as Vladimir and Estragon are waiting for his coming much like Christians wait for the second coming of Jesus, and once he appears, if he appears, they think or at least hope that “[they’ll] be saved,” perhaps from the bleakness of life (109). As they wait for him, it becomes evident that their world is full of pain and suffering, that suffering plays a more tangible role in their lives than Godot. They experience pain, they witness it, and they ponder what they should do in the midst of it all. One sort of such pain is physical and the other is an emotionally and mentally troubling sort: the torture and uneasiness of uncertainty they experience in their inability to ascertain the meaning of physical pain or the meaning of life in relation to the role Godot plays in it.

If somehow the ubiquitous sense of uncertainty in Vladimir’s and Estragon’s lives had a positive effect upon them, if they were able to create their own existential meaning, then perhaps they would not suffer mentally and emotionally as they do. But as it is, “hope deferred maketh the something sick,” as Vladimir puts it, perhaps omitting the word heart to signify that he has lost heart all together, his view of life bleak and hopeless (4). In their hopelessness, Vladimir and Estragon often contemplate suicide, even discussing a specific suicide plan. Ultimately they decide suicide would not be a good idea because, with the materials available to them, only one could die, leaving the other alone in his misery. Though at the close of the play the two remain alive, there is nothing to say that at some point they will not lose hope altogether, given the preponderance of hopelessness arising from the uncertainty all around them and their frequent discussion of suicide.

From the very beginning the audience is aware of omnipresent suffering; at the start of the first act, after Vladimir...

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