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A brilliant piece of Existentialist and Absurdist literature
on July 28, 2003
Waiting for Godot centers around two bums: Estragon and Vladimir. Estragon has an incredibly short memory and relies on Vladimir to remember for him. As a result, Estragon is extremely impatient and constantly suggests that the two would be better off if they parted. However, Estragon needs Vladimir and Vladimir needs Estragon, so they never do part. Vladimir, due to Estragon's lack of memory, is unsure of his own memory. Vladimir enjoys the company of Estragon, for it allows him to recall past events. Together, they spend their time devising ways to pass the time until 'Godot' arrives. Neither Estragon and Vladimir or the reader surely know what Godot is or looks like or whether he will ever arrive. On two occasions, they meet Pozzo and Lucky. Pozzo is Lucky's master and decides to stop and talk to Estragon and Vladimir for a bit of company. Pozzo hardly listens to what the other characters in the play say and frequently launches into melodramatic prose. Lucky is Pozzo's slave, tied to Pozzo via a rope around his neck. Lucky only speaks twice during the entire play. His monologue, which is delivered upon Pozzo's order of 'Think', is completely incoherent - a mix of half-finished words and sentences. Lucky is very obedient to Pozzo and rather violent and hostile to strangers, especially Estragon, who he bites. In the second act, Pozzo and Lucky return again, this time Pozzo is blind and Lucky is mute. They have no memory of ever having met Estragon and Vladimir. The play ends in the same way Act One ends - Estragon and Vladimir are still dependent on eachother and remain waiting for Godot.
Waiting for Godot is a classic text of existentialism and Absurdist literature. The very ambiguous nature of these two strands of thought and literature makes Waiting for Godot extremely difficult to understand and extract. However the questions, confusion, anger and melancholy that arise from the lack of explanation, meaning and answers is one of the very themes of the play. The large amount of speculation people have made upon Godot (the most popular one being that Godot symbolizes God) is entirely misdirected and a waste of energy. Beckett himself ignored such claims and interpretations, stating that the emphasis should be upon the 'Waiting for...' section of the title. Religious interpretations see Estragon and Vladimir as humanity waiting for the return of the messiah (Godot). Pozzo represents the Pope and Lucky is the faithful. Marxist interpretations see the relationship between Pozzo and Lucky as that between a bourgeosie and a proleteriat - Pozzo being blind to the injustice he causes and Lucky unable to protest against his treatment. Another interpretation claims that Lucky is granted his name because, in the context of the play, he is unduly lucky. This is because the other characters of the play are constantly searching for ways to pass the time, while Lucky's actions are fully determined by Pozzo. Other interpretations posit Estragon as the body without the intellect and Vladimir as the intellect without the body.
Overall, Waiting for Godot is a superb and though-provoking play. It should not be shunned for its ambiguity - for that is the very beauty and theme of it. Despite all this, it certainly calls for multiple readings. It is a remarkable insight into the nature of the individual and society in a meaningless, unexplainable world. Waiting for Godot does not propose any solutions or consolations - rather it paints a picture of the current predicament and man's reaction. Nearly every human being is waiting for their Godot and is employing some means of wasting the time until its arrival. I highly recommend this classic - it cannot and will not be ignored.