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Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett as an Absurd Drama

Waiting for Godot as an Absurd Drama –Discuss.

Waiting for Godot

Samuel Beckett

 Waiting for Godot’ as an Absurd Drama

Waiting for Godot’ as an Absurd Drama –Discuss.

Answer: The phrase "Absurd Drama" or "Theater of Absurd" gained coin after Martin Esslin's book, Theater of the Absurd, was published in 1961. Esslin mentions that absurd playwrights have no such thing as regular movements. By 'absurd', Camus meant a life only for the universe that is no longer understood because there is no God to resolve contradictions. In other words, what Camus called ‘absurd’, Kierkegaard called ‘desperate’ and it was in this philosophy that Beckett created his famous play ‘Waiting for Godot’. Before the genre of absurd dramas gained popularity through Beckett's hands and others like Adamov, Inosco and Janet, the dramas were characterized by clearly constructed stories and subtleties of characterization and inspiration. However, absurd dramas were characterized by non-specific anonymous characters who are presented almost like mechanical puppets. These plays speak to the deepest levels of the audience’s mind. It challenges the audience to create non-consciousness, to face the situation consciously and to realize the basic indifference with laughter.

Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ relates to the Theater of the Absurd tradition. It is customary not to depict any dramatic conflict. In drama, virtually nothing happens, no development is found, and there is no beginning and no end. The whole move unfolds in an absurd setting on a country side street with two Trumps, Vladimir and Estragon, who spend their time waiting for Godot, about whom they have only vague ideas. There’s not enough to tell each other and yet they must spend time, because they can’t stop waiting. Two more characters, a cruel master named Pozzo and his half-mad slave named Lucky appear. Finally a boy came with the message that Godot would come the next day. The two Trumps decide to leave, but they don’t move and the screen falls, in the end nothing happens. The second act is a replica of the first act, but Pozzo is now blind and Lucky dumb. Vladimir and Estragon, after a long waiting, escape finally in despair. This monotony marked the world after the war and this situation was captured and portrayed in the theater of the Absurd.

Absurd drama has worked with a deep level of irrationality --- in a world where the deterioration of people's religious beliefs has deprived people of certainty; there is the folly of human condition. Beckett's deliberate efforts resulted in the disintegration of any social position or historical context, with Vladimir and Estragon appearing on the empty stage. The barren stage symbolizes the universe where two Trumps are thrown to deal with the basic conditions of their existence and go through a conflict of choice and expectation. And this situation eventually makes Vladimir and Estragon passive and weak ahead of time. In this way they surrender themselves to the endless waiting for Godot. Often they get tired of waiting and decide to go, but they fail to say:

Estragon: - I'm tired! Let's go.

Vladimir: We can't

Estragon: - Why not

Vladimir: - We are waiting for Godot. (Law 1)

However, the title of the play itself indicates that the drama has been waiting for a long time and for Godot there two Trumps have been waiting. When Beckett was asked who Godot was, he replied, "If I had known, I would have said the same in the play." This kind of response forced critics to give different interpretations of Godot's identity. The word ‘Godot’ indicates a weak or minor form of the word ‘God’. In fact, the French version of the play "An Attendant Godot" seems to have an idea from the book "Atente de Diu", which further proves that "Godot" is in favor of God.

Beckett very tactfully highlighted some religious references to characterize God as simple, partial, and fun. The other biblical story of the salvation of one thief and the contempt of the other, though described as a child away from Vladimir's time, actually raises questions about the partial nature of God. The messenger who works for Godot informs Vladimir that Godot physically abuses his brother, a shepherd, for no reason. This episode of the play instantly draws the reader's attention to the biblical story of the cane and the able. And sadly enough one of the brothers receives the grace of the Lord without an unreasonable explanation. At the same time, however, Beckett predicted in his play Godot's dominance and man's futile dependence on a supreme power. Vladimir and Estragon tell Pozzo about Godot, whom they took to be Godot: -

Estragon: -... We rarely know him    

Vladimir: - True. ... we don't know him very well. (Law 1)

Godot's identity is tied to Vladimir and Estragon, and they are still hopeful that Godot's arrival will brighten their future. Pozzo's remarks give us insights into the minds of two Trumps about Godot.

Pozzo: -... Godet ... Godot ... Godin ...

What I mean is how do you see, in whose hands is your future.

 At least your near future (Act 1). 

Beckett proved to be a complete adherent of Absurd Theater's vision during the making of his memorable play 'Waiting for Godot'. The playwrights of the Absurd Theater said in Nietzsche's "Zarathustra" that he was influenced by "God is dead." And in the end, Beckett leaves a significant question mark on the existence of God. Moreover, the title of the play is extremely important to reflect the genre of absurd theater. The play is a great construction by the influential action of the time and the human experience. Throughout the drama, nothing really happens and the change itself is a delusion.

***** 

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