Major Themes in 'Waiting for Godot'

Waiting for Godot is generally considered as a masterpiece example of what has come to be known as the theater of the absurd. The play is written by an Irish novelist, Samuel Beckett, a prominent literary figure well known for this work, and remembered as the founder of the theatre of absurd. The play was performed in 1949, having the theme of existentialist philosophy. The play Waiting for Godot is famous for purposeless characters, meaningless actions, and lacking a basic plot.

The in-depth analysis gives a lot of themes and sometimes it seems that the play is revolving around Christian religion and Beckett making fun of it. Some of the agreeable themes are below.

1. ABSURDITY

The world absurd means that "the quality or state of being ridiculous or wildly unreasonable." The definition exactly fits the theme of unreasonable and absurd. The play has the repetition of many words and phrases, nonsensical lines, purposeless characters, meaningless dialogues, and wordplay. Characters both Vladimir and Estragon have dementia, forget everything even about their own identities. The text is full of humor but mixed up with tragedy that makes it different from other kinds of play. Beckett thus presents an eerie play that sits uneasily on the border between tragedy and comedy, in territory one can only call the absurd. Vladimir and Estragon's nonsensical actions, suicide attempts, and rude behavior with Lucky on the Pozo's side create a discomforting effect on the audience. The play confuses readers as well as the audience whether to laugh or cry at the events presented on the stage. The useless conversations and extreme utterance of characters showed the emptiness and aimless world after World War II.

2. PURPOSELESSNESS OF LIFE

Purposelessness in the play seems from the very first act by the meaningless actions of Vladimir and Estragon. All the major characters are purposeless. It seems that Vladimir and Estragon have some purpose, but Godot's not arriving makes their waiting vain. The visiting of Pozo and Lucky in the first act likely seems that Pozo wants to sell him but failed to do so as the play progress and is ultimately shown to be equally purposeless. They are simply wandering from place to place, while on the other hand, Estragon and Lucky doing different acts even an empty suicide attempt. Their traveling may even be counterproductive because they cannot seem to go any distance without falling. The theater of absurd has a special message that life is purposeless vividly shows in the play Waiting for Godot. The boy's message is also equally vain, that Godot is never coming. Both Estragon and Vladimir are waiting for a long time without any purpose completely conform to the characteristics of the theater of absurd.

3. UNCERTAINTY OF TIME

Time is uncertain in this play, but in the opening scene, it passes normally. Morning, daytime, and evening pass systematically, but the characters are sometimes showing confusion about it again and again. Many scenes show that they wait a long time. In the second act, the growth of leaves also suggests the same, and on the other hand, Estragon and Vladimir have no firm idea of how long they have been together or how long ago they did other things, such as climb the Eiffel Tower or pick grapes in Macon country.

Characters are pessimistic that lead them to suicide, and it seems the scenes and event repeating the same way every day, but Estragon and Vladimir never remember to bring the rope they would need to hang themselves.

It shows the meaningless life and cheap use of time in extreme despair, the aftermath of the effect of World War II.

4. THEME OF RELATIONSHIP

Relationship and Friendship is one of the major themes of the play Waiting for Godot. The writer explores and portrays different types of relationships ranging from friendship to slave and ownership. Of course, they are different entities with different physical as well as mental problems but collectively they play a big role in the play.

 Three types of associations portray the theme of relationship in “Waiting for Godot”.

1. Relationship between Estragon and Vladimir

2. Association of Pozzo and Lucky

3. Relationship of Estragon and Vladimir with Godot.

Vladimir and Estragon's relationship is seemingly dependent on each other having a good friendship.

Vladimir added, “Don’t touch me! Don’t question me! Don’t speak to me! Stay with me!”

The relationship between Pozo and Lucky is like a slave and master. Lucky is a slave in the first act. His character presents a miserable condition of humanity.

Friendship is very delicate in Waiting for Godot, as each character is separated from each other. Relationships teeter between a terror of friendlessness and an essential inability to connect. This tension is central to the play. The problems that keep characters apart vary from physical disgust to ego to a fear of others’ suffering.

 5. THEME OF EXISTENTIALISM

Both the characters Vladimir and Estragon put themselves into an absurd situation just like humans have been put in the world without any motivation. The question of existence is revolving around the play. Throughout the play, they are restricted to change their miserable and excruciating condition of life. Samuel Beckett's play 'Waiting for Godot' exposes that it is up to the individual to change the meaning of life through personal experience in the earthly world and make it better.

In very simple words the philosophy of existentialism means that every person is responsible for his actions and no second person is pulling his strings or controlling his fate. Every character in the play are independent with little restrictions, but they never want to improve their lives. The solution (which none of the characters take) would seem to be action and choice despite the ever-presence of uncertainty, and an awareness of one’s surroundings and past actions.

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