Modern Society In Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot

Decent Essays
Throughout the 20th century, the human population began to question many basic principles of societies of the past; for example, the foundations of established religions became questionable to some followers as scientists revealed explanations for the phenomena of the world. Samuel Beckett’s 1953 play Waiting for Godot paints a dramatic, memorable portrait of the author’s view of modern society and the effects it has upon the characters in the play. Beckett incorporates multiple themes within the play to illustrate the ramifications of the rapid changes in modern society on the characters; for example, the two main characters, Vladimir and Estragon (also known as Didi and Gogo), spend a significant amount of time engaged in repetitive, meaningless …show more content…
For example, certain words and phrases appear continually in the play, and their repetition reinforces the meaningless nature of the situation. One of the key phrases and most important quotations in the play is Estragon’s assertion “Nothing to be done,” (1) an aphorism that Beckett often uses to transition “scenes”; Estragon says it again twelve pages later. Vladimir and Estragon feel as though nothing they do will change their predicament, so nothing is exactly what they do; in this case, Beckett’s writing reflects the attitude of modern society following World War II when the general population often questioned the purpose of mankind and its actions, as he shows the futility of any action as they wait for Godot. The idea of “enough” also crops up multiple times in the novel as Beckett questions whether the characters are satisfied in their world; as Estragon tries to tell Vladimir about his dream, Vladimir screams, “DON’T TELL ME!” and Estragon retorts, “This one is enough for you?” (8). This exchange is vital and drives home the worry of whether or not the universe has meaning at all. However, Beckett extends his discussion of meaning into other topics beyond mankind’s …show more content…
Didi seems to discover meaning at the beginning of the speech when he declares, “Let us do something, while we have the chance!” (70). He follows this positive statement with “What we are doing here, that is the question. And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in this immense confusion one thing alone is clear” (70). Now the audience is ready to hear the ultimate meaning of the play, for they see that Vladimir has discovered something wonderful and meaningful, and he is about to reveal it to them! Tragically, however, Didi concludes his speech with, “We are waiting for Godot.” (70). Beckett stuns the audience and the reader with this display of utter meaninglessness. His portrayal of modern society becomes irrevocably bleak and futile in this one moment, as Vladimir’s “revelation” symbolizes the lack of meaning in his

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