“Waiting for Godot,” by Samuel Beckett, is a play that speaks to the human will to seek for a breakthrough in their lives while at the same time depending on someone they cannot vouch for. This has made it impossible for Vladimir and Estragon to leave their waiting spot upon receiving information that Godot was not going to show up. They fall on either side of existentialism where they have free will on one side and on the other they do not have control over their fate. There is the idea of Marxism in the way Pozzo treats Lucky, Vladimir and Estragon. He treats them in a way that is likely to spark conflict among the four of them. However, the fact that all four gentlemen had nothing important to do meant that Pozzo, being rich as he was, had nothing to show for it other than his slave. While at the spot, all four people were idle despite Pozzo having a stool and a basket for his convenience. The theory of existentialism where free will and fate are governed by an individual’s choice, and Marxism where the people are seen to be in a class conflict at any given time, are all refuted by the characters in this play, none of them has free will and the class conflict does not come into play because some of the characters do not recognize its glaring presence.
Vladimir goes through a moment of anagnorisis when he realises that Estragon’s thoughts are not well thought out. He finds out that Estragon has no foresight in the way he admonishes the young man with a message from Godot. He does not stop to think about the consequences of his words in case Godot gets to know about it. However, Vladimir is also as forgetful and thoughtless because he does not remember why they were waiting for Godot in the frst place. He keeps forgetting that his fate lies in their meeting with Godot. Vladimir fails to meet Godot and he seems to not understand that his survival is being threatened. There are peripetia moments for Vladimir because he realizes that Godo may not be coming after all. He also realises that Godot may be non-existent as well because Pozzo admits to not knowing who Godot is. The action of Pozzo seating with Vladimir creates an interesting spectacle because he does not fit in their social class but sits with them anyway. This tragicomedy breaks down the Marxist and existentialism formations of the society.
The actions of Vladimir and Estragon remain fairly unchanged in the sense that they keep waiting for Godot, yet they do not know him in person. This is symbolic to the way people wait and hope for things to happen in their lives by faith but they do not know who will help them. Vladimir and Estragon wait for the fate of their lives because when Godot fails to come, they contemplate suicide. One cannot tell what happens when the curtain falls but the reaction of the two gentlemen when the young man tells them that Godot was no longer coming is an indication of crushed hope.
I’ve seen you before, haven’t I?
I don’t know, Sir.
You don’t know me?
It wasn’t you came yesterday?
This is your first time?
The young boy symbolizes the fact that people no longer have free will in their lives. Vladimir and Estragon would have wanted to meet Godot immediately the play began but they had to be patient since their desires were not being met. The two characters seem to have lost their will to decide their fate and left that role to Godot who never came.
In the play, the social class is well divided. The bourgeois and the proletariat have taken their roles perfectly, as have the peasants. Godot is obviously the Master in the play. However, Pozzo, being the working class among Lucky Vladimir and Estragon, is convinced that should all know him and he even pretends not to know who Godot is. This is likely an indication that he expects Estragon and Vladimir to acknowledge his superiority over them. this he does by his show of power in how he treats Lucky. “Stop! (Lucky stops.) Yes, the road seems long when one
journeys all alone for . . . (he consults his watch) . . . yes . . . (he calculates) . . .
yes, six hours, that’s right, six hours on end, and never a soul in sight. (To Lucky.)
Coat! (Lucky puts down the bag, advances, gives the coat, goes back to his place,
takes up the bag.) Hold that! (Pozzo holds out the whip. Lucky advances and, both
his hands being occupied, takes the whip in his mouth, then goes back to his
place. Pozzo begins to put on his coat, stops.)” His intention in treating Lucky like this is to how Vladimir and Estragon that he is an important man in the society. Lucky is seemingly tied in his situation as he cannot rebel against his master for the risk of being whipped is high. His master has also tied a rope to his neck making it impossible for him to escape. Lucky is only left with one choice, to obey Pozzo.
Vladimir and Estragon have resigned their fate to the coming of Godot. This is another sign that these two characters have themselves tied in a situation whereby is Godot does not come, their lives are destroyed. The young man who comes to tell them that Godot was not coming is a seal to their fate. He could be lying to them to encourage them to keep waiting because one cannot be certain that he knew Godot.
(in a rush). Mr. Godot told me to tell you he won’t come this evening but surely
Is that all?
The young boy seems to know how brutal Pozzo could be because he speaks of being afraid of the whip. He also comes towards Vladimir and Estragon after Pozzo and Lucky leave. All these are possibilities that the two gentlemen are not in any way aware of what they want in their lives. The value of the rich and the poor is done away with in the event where even Pozzo decides to sit with Vladimir and Estragon even when he seemingly has a journey to complete. He speaks of having walked for six hours without meeting any human being and he craves some human company even when the likeness is not very pleasant. This is an indication that Vladimir and Estragon were beneath him and he still chose to sit with them.
The play is relevant to the happenings of the world today. The play resonates with people in dire situations where they have nowhere else to go other than sit and wait for fate to decide what happens to them. For instance, when the people who were victims of Hurricane Katrina were devastated by the number of losses they had to deal with. Some lost property and relatives and were left alone in the world. At such a point, one would be confused about where to start picking themselves from. They would be at the point where Vladimir and Estragon were. Lucky is a good representation of the people who find themselves in slavery and cannot find a way out. They are the people who are wrongfully convicted but cannot afford legal fees to fight their way out of prison. The sores and bodily harm on Lucky’s body is both figurative and literal representation of the way people live today. In my own perspective, the play speaks on the situation of people living in the postmodern world today. There are no jobs, no source of income, yet the basic consumption does not stop. People could be driven to the point of despair when they cannot support their basic survival needs adequately in society. at that point, the play makes sense in every way possible.
Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot. 1953. Online.
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