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Theme Of Waiting And Human Condition In Samuel Beckett's "Waiting For Godot"

1803 words - 8 pages

"But the main thing for me, having read and seen the play many times since its appearance about fifty years ago, is that it is about waiting, about unending expectation, about the moment that comes before something which itself never comes, but which in the process reduces everyone to a frozen state of clown-like, pathetic, banality in which only limited motion is possible in virtually the same places." - (Edward Said: 'Waiting for the Change')Indeed, Beckett's Waiting for Godot presents the nightmare of waiting without time. The subject of the play is not 'Godot' but waiting, the act of waiting as an essential and characteristic aspect of the human condition. Throughout our life we always ...view middle of the document...

But the protagonists are being "kept going" by playful variations in the pattern of waiting with uncertainties of meaning and destination. Estragon's 'ifs' ('And if he doesn't come?' 'If he came yesterday and we weren't here you may be sure he won't come again today.') and his 'until' ('until he comes') present the anxieties and uncertainties within this act of waiting at an early stage. The risk of waiting in vain is also emphasized early in the play by the failure attempt to clarify the inexorable conditions supposedly set by the supposed 'Godot'. In the course of a long dialogue concerning 'Godot', Vladimir admits that they no longer have any 'rights' - "We got rid of them."In the first Act, the arrival of Pozzo-Lucky pair suspends the act of waiting--attention shifts to the doings of Pozzo and Lucky, the lord of the waste and his shriveled carrier, dancer, thinker and speaker. Duration their presence the compulsions of the long process of waiting are almost forgotten despite Pozzo's occasional speculations about the identity and demands of this personage: "Godet......Godot......Godin."The second Act, with its cycle of repetitions and variations, dramatizes the ultimate problem of waiting. The act of waiting becomes both more playful and more desperate in the second Act.Waiting, being an abstract idea and indefinable, is inexplicable, and it is not what a man is doing while waiting, but what he is not doing that constitutes waiting. So, waiting, which implies the absence of the waited for, is itself mysteriously absent. Moreover, waiting is a self-erasing non-activity since it negates the transient activities we engage in while waiting. Jumping, whittling, reading, even staring in annoyance at our watch - whatever we are doing is nullified by virtue of our waiting. Although those activities are undeniably occurring, they are rendered meaningless to what we are really doing, i.e., waiting. Thus Gogo & Didi struggle with their boots and their hats, engage in greeting ceremonies, ponder the mysteries of the Crucification and the enigmas of suicide, eat carrots and turnips, talk with Pozzo and listen to Lucky, but they always come back to the nullifying words:Let's go.We can't.Why not?We're waiting for Godot.The overriding importance of waiting nullifies not only what we are doing but also the time in which we are doing it. Waiting erases the past and diminishes the present but apparently aggrandizes the future in which the waited for will appear. To wait for the future is to wait also for the unknown, and then to put oneself at risk. When Didi says - "We are not saints, but we have kept our appointment. How many people can boast as much?" Gogo deflates him by saying that "Billions". But the fact that they have kept their appointment lends both merit and desperation to their waiting. That is, in a mutable world, appointments, vows, contracts, promises, and so forth are attempts to control time and give shape to one's life to escape the...

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