Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot: Existentialism And The Theatre Of The Absurd

2527 words - 10 pages

Every person is responsible for themselves. In society, people are responsible for their actions; good deeds will accede to rewards while bad deeds will lead to demerits. Humans live in a world where they are told what to do and how to do it, and faced with what is considered right and what is seen as wrong, but at the end of the day, humans have the freewill to do as they please and make their own choices, which leads them to being responsible for those actions. Everyday, humans are faced with these choices and decisions to make only to know deep down inside that they will either have positive or negative reactions to their choices, and it is this key idea that led to a specific philosophical concept in the 19th century, existentialism. This philosophy can clearly be seen in everyday life as well as in theatrical movements in the past and present. By examining the works of Samuel Beckett, evidence of existential thinking will be brought forward proving the progress of this philosophical movement. It will illustrate how existentialism has influenced Beckett, especially through his play, Waiting for Godot.

The Theatre of the Absurd is another theatrical concept being examined proving that Samuel Beckett integrated the philosophy into his works through the Theatre of the Absurd. Whether or not Beckett justified existentialism or remodelled the theory, especially through the expression of “existence precedes essence”, will also be examined which will eventually lead to the result of whether this philosophical concept was seen as only a movement through a specific time, or a daily life exercise. Through the examination of existentialism and the idea of "existence precedes essence", it can be proved that this movement is still progressing and depicted in different theatrical movements illustrated by Samuel Beckett and the Theatre of the Absurd.

The world “existence” “comes from the Latin existere which means to stand forth, to rise” (Fernando Molina, 56) and that is exactly what is meant in Existentialism, to rise above being in mere existence and to make something of life. The existential movement first began in the 19th century as a way to look at life and how one should live their life. Existentialism examines the human condition and existence through human’s emotions and actions, thoughts and responsibilities. All these attributes come together to answer what the purpose of life is. Sartre claimed it is “a doctrine that makes human life possible and also affirms that every truth and every action imply an environment and a human subjectivity” (Jean-Paul Sartre, 18). The philosophy focuses more on the subjective reality rather than the objective world surrounding humans, like science and logic. The 19th century philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, who is considered the “Father of Existentialism” expressed the idea that humans sole responsibility was to give their lives meaning and to live life fully, because “life is not a problem to be solved...

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