Existentialism In Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot

1390 Words 6 Pages
“A country road. A tree. Evening.” These stage directions preface Samuel Beckett’s tragicomedy “Waiting for Godot.” In the play, two men meet on this sparse, forlorn stage and attempt to make sense of their obscure world through encounters with mysterious characters and the prospects of finding purpose upon the arrival of a character they call Godot. The two men, Estragon and Vladimir, experience very little action or significant adventure in regards to the plot. Still, Beckett, regarded by some as a nihilist, manages to successfully demonstrate his philosophies even in the blandest of situations. In this two-act play, Beckett’s existentialist approach to life is reflected throughout the narrative. Furthermore, this existentialism advances …show more content…
Estragon and Vladimir are really waiting for God, and by extension, an answer to their hopeless and hollow world. In the first act, a boy enters the stage to deliver the news that Godot cannot come, but that he will arrive tomorrow. The protagonists continue to wait throughout the entirety of the second act only to meet the boy again and to receive the same news. Previously, Vladimir was excited and faithful in a world in which Godot’s arrival is imminent. However, this time he responds to the news passively. The boy announces he has a message from Godot. Vladimir guesses the message immediately: “He won't come this evening” (Beckett 81). Vladimir becomes accustomed to Godot’s unreliability, and in turn, loses faith in his existence. In addition to this existentialism, when Vladimir asks the boy what Godot does every day while the protagonists wait, the boy responds, “He does nothing, sir” (82). This layer of symbolism is the prevailing theme of “Waiting for Godot.” When the boy affirms that Godot will not come and that he “does nothing,” the author is implying that the same can be said of God. Beckett’s use of symbolism elevates his narrative to an absurdist level. Godot never appears onstage. This calls into question the entire existence of a god. Through Estragon and Vladimir’s persistent belief in the arrival of Godot that will never come, Beckett exposes the …show more content…
Beckett applies this style in order to emphasize the importance of the phrase on its correlation to existentialism and absurdism. Vladimir and Estragon often repeat the dialogue “Nothing to be done” with each other. Because of the emphasis on this particular phrase, one can conclude that Beckett is expanding this statement to apply to humanity and existence. Although Estragon is referring to the removal of his boot when he says there is “nothing to be done,” the symbolic context behind this dialogue translates to “nothing to be done” in regards to finding the significance of life (1). This point of view can be seen as extremely nihilistic, contributing to Beckett’s absurdist writing style. The characters remain unaware of the absurdist tones, but the audience recognizes that their dialogue holds deeper intentions in terms of existentialism. Additionally, they echo the title “Waiting for Godot” back and forth, as they often have to remind each other what exactly it is that they are doing. This repetitive language signifies the constant and inescapable circular return from the attempt to find direction back to square one. It shows the presence of a circular narrative: No matter how much they try to escape their current plight, they always return to the dreary, bleak setting where they meet day after

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