The play “Waiting for Godot” begins with two men Vladimir and Estragon, also called Didi and Gogo respectively. It’s an outdoor scene of a barren road where the two men are waiting for an unspecified person or perhaps a deity, ‘Godot’ nearby a leafless tree. They are not certain of anything like if Godot would come that evening, the place where they are waiting, if they have met Godot before or if he is going to come at all. The play begins with Estragon muttering, ‘Nothing to be done’ while he is trying to remove his boot from his aching feet. Vladimir agrees with him and estragon recalls having been beaten the night before. Finally his boot come off and they both roam around pointlessly. Suddenly estragon decides to leave but Vladimir reminds him that they must stay and wait for Godot. Both of them cannot agree when and where they are expected to meet and they only know to wait at a leafless tree which is nearby.
After sometime, Estragon falls asleep and Vladimir wakes him up and then stops him as he start telling about his dream. Then Estragon demands to hear an old joke from Vladimir. But as soon as Vladimir starts telling the joke, he feels kidney ailment which flares up from laughing and he has to go off to urinate. On his return, tired of being bored, Estragon suggest to hang themselves but they feel unable to execute their plan because of its ineffectiveness. Later they think if they would be rewarded for all this time of endless wait but they couldn’t conclude anything. Estragon asks Vladimir if he has anything to eat and Vladimir provides him a carrot.
Then a terrible cry is heard and two new characters Pozzo , a cruel and imperious master with Lucky, a baggage-burdened and silent slave enter. There is a rope tied in Lucky’s neck, the other end of which is holded by Pozzo. Pozzo treats Lucky very cruelly by shouting and using abusive words for him. Later he starts to eat chicken and have wine. And as he casts the bones to floor Estragon shows his intention to have those bones. After sometimes of observing the cruel behavior of Pozzo towards Lucky, Vladimir finally speaks on Lucky’s behalf. Pozzo ignores that and tells them that he has come to sell Lucky, on which Lucky begins to cry. Estragon out of sympathy tries to wipe his tears but Lucky kicked him. Then Pozzo starts talking about his relationship with Lucky and Vaguely seemed nostalgic. He offers Vladimir and Estragon some compensation for Lucky as they have accompanied him and he also suggests them that Lucky can please them by his Dance and will be a source of entertainment in their boredom. Lucky is ordered by Pozzo to dance, his dance is very clumsy. This is followed by Lucky’s speech , this is the only time in the play where he speaks. He, at the start was being rational and talked about theology but later his speech became verbiage, was interrupted by Vladimir who took of his hat. After this, both Pozzo and Lucky packed up and left hastily.
Once again, Estragon and Vladimir, are alone and they think if they have met Pozzo and Lucky before. Meanwhile, a boy appears who calls himself a messenger sent by Godot, informs them that Godot will not come by that evening but will surely come tomorrow. Vladimir starts asking the boy if he came the day before, while the guy insists that he never came there before. From there, it became apparent that both men have been waiting for a very long time and will likely continue waiting. As the night starts to fall, both agree to leave and find a shelter but neither of them moves.
The curtain opens, its secomd day, Vladimir is singing a song of a dog’s death but forgets the lyrics. Estragon again claims to have been beaten the night before without having any apparent injury. Estragon has a very dull or no memory while Vladimir is a bit sharp and philosophical and could observe some leaves on the nearby tree which on the early day was totally bare. He then shows Estragon a wound made by Lucky, trying to recall the events of yesterday. They also discover Estragon’s boot, which he insists that does not belongs to him although it fits him perfectly. Estragon announces his hunger, Vladimir tells him that there are no carrots left and gives him a turnip or radish to eat. Estragon then dozes off after listening to a lullaby by Vladimir. Later, Vladimir finds another evidence lying nearby, its Lucky’s hat, which serves to confirm his memory. He wakes Estragon up and booth in order to distract themselves starts to act as Pozzo and Lucky. They both try to indulge themselves in other mundane activities but nothing seems to work out.
Pozzo and Lucky reappear, but this time Pozzo is guided by Lucky. Pozzo trips over Lucky as they arrive and Estragon thinks of taking revenge for the kick. A long debate is stirred up and later Pozzo shocks them by revealing that he’s become blind and that Lucky, a dumb. He further declares to have lost all sense of time and cannot remember if they have met earlier. He says, he doesn’t even expect to remember today’s event tomorrow. Pozzo, who was very proud and arrogant has now become insightful and passive. His last words were filled with despair. They depart, and estragon again falls asleep just before the arrival of boy that evening.
Vladimir, alone encounters the same boy and wonders if he’s the same or the other boy’s brother. Vladimir soon starts realizing the circular nature of his experiences and he even predicts what boy will say, Godot will not come today but surely tomorrow. Vladimir realizes the whole situation and make an unsuccessful attempt to chase the boy. Estragon awakes and they both decide to hang themselves. They think to hang themselves by the tree and consider using Estragon’s belt as a rope. But as they test, it broke and his trousers fell down to his ankles. They both decide to bring a strong rope the other day and resolves to leave, but neither of them moves and curtain falls.
The book that I have chosen for the assignment to write a review on is a play, “Waiting for Godot”, written by Samuel Beckett. It was published in 1949. It is a tragicomedy, which consists of two acts. I have chosen this novel because of its rebel nature, its absurdity and its close relation.
The play was originally written in French between 9 October 1948 and 29 January 1949, entitled En attendant Godot. The play was admired, it was a rebel not adherent to the dramatic tradition, it was highly appreciated. The play lacked the development of characters or the plot etc. but it was a super hit and became the foundation of The Theater of the Absurd.
The play was translated by the writer himself, Samuel Beckett, shortly afterwards. He was awarded a Noble Prize for his remarkable piece of literature which served as a revolutionary contribution to drama and literature.
The whole novel is based on uncertainty, randomness, emptiness or nothingness. The two characters in the play are never sure of anything they are doing or expecting. The protagonists are two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, the story is about their endless wait for an eternal deity whom they call ‘Godot”, which never shows up in the whole novel but is awaited till the end of the novel.
The novel is very thought provoking and philosophical, which makes it interesting despite of its absurdity and recurrence of events. The absurdity presented is very much relevant to reality, which makes it highly philosophical and indeed a masterpiece of The Theater of the Absurd. The play had to face certain criticism on the grounds of its literary merit but it was a success on its way to a revolutionary work which explored the themes of Existentialism. During the play, the audience is made to wonder if anything’s going to happen or anything in the play has a meaning.
It is an absurd play, very opposite to reason and rationality, something very silly and foolish. The plot of the play is not well constructed and there is no characterization. The characters are there but they are nit recognizable, whatever they say or do is unable to convey some purpose. They seem puppets, which do not convey any rational or clear ideas. There is no rise and fall of action just like a traditional story, even the setting of the play does not change. Nothing seems to vary, except the tree which produces two or three leaves in the second act.
“Nothing happens, nobody comes……nobody goes, it’s awful!”
The characters in the play are very much aware of their purposelessness, due to which they experience anguish and severe boredom. The play presents the traditional view of time, as habit and memory. Every day is the same, the things we do daily become a part of our routine and thus our habit. A habit has nothing to do with our memory, we don’t even bother to recall the events of the day before. This is what the play seems to talk all about. The play lacks motivation and the theme is not explained. The play believes that humanity is purposeless in existence.
There are Biblical references in the play. The two thieves of the Gospel’s tale who were crucified along with Jesus Christ and the biblical reference of Cain and Abel. These surely serve a great purpose in building the theme of chance and probability in the novel.
Vladimir: “Our Savior. Two thieves. One is supposed to have been saved and the other….damned.”
The other reference of Cain and Abel shows the same theme of duality. As in the Bible, Cain’s sacrifice was rejected and Abel’s accepted. This shows the probability that Godot might come the next day if he has not come today. This can also be related to the event where they were thinking of attempting suicide. Because of the delicate rope, there were chances that the rope might break just after one of them hang himself and the other one had to remain alive. Moreover, there is significance of nightfall and reappearance of moon in the play. The nightfall frees them from the struggle of waiting. The night here resembles the afterlife where one is free from the struggles of this life. The appearance of moon every single night promotes the theme of weariness even more.
The story, as I have mentioned earlier, does not follow the traditional style of story writing which involves: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. The story is far different which makes it a masterpiece or a revolutionary work of a modern artist.
The most prevailing theme in the play is that of hope, they have a hope that a savior in the form of Godot will come to free them from their miserable struggles. There is also an element of hopelessness which appears as they realize the circular nature of events happening, but they continue hoping for Godot’s arrival as they think there is no alternative except to wait. Both of them depend on each other and are living out of need as they admit being happy when they are apart. Estragon mentions at certain places of leaving but Vladimir demands him to stay. They both help each other not only to find things to pass time but to avoid the voices which arise out of silence. Estragon also depends on Vladimir as he has a bad memory. Both of the men always seem struggling to find things in order to kill time. In the whole novel, Lucky seems Lucky as he does not have to struggle finding tasks for himself. He, being a slave is accustomed to following the orders given to him by his master Pozzo. On the other hand, Pozzo not only cares to find things for himself but also for Lucky to do.
The relationship of Pozzo and Lucky is that of a capitalist and labor. It is relatable as in the second act lucky gets mute which shows the inability of working class to protest againt the oppression. The blindness of Pozzo, however, shows the inability of the capitalist to see the suffering of his surrounding.
I would recommend reading this book because of its enigmatic nature and existential philosophies which makes it interesting and all the more attractive to read despite of its coherent actions and absurdity. While reading, the reader is prone to many questions which arise in his mind about his very existence, the purpose of his life, the existence of God, the reason for his sufferings, the purpose of coping with the never ending struggles of life and rewards of not giving up in miseries. The evident hope of the two characters in the play, that things will get better mirrors our personal deficiencies and false hopes for an outer being to come and save us without struggling to save our own self.