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.