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In the play, waiting for Godot, the main characters; Vladimir and Estragon hopelessly wait for Godot who never shows up even after promising to show up twice. The two men continue waiting for Godot, whom they admit that they do not know and keep on hoping that he will show up. Furthermore, the confusion facing Vladimir and Estragon is clear as they admit that they do not know if the place where they had been waiting for Godot was the right venue and they further admit that they do not know Godot. Godot never shows up in the two scenes and the two men are frustrated as they eat, sleep, sing, converse, play games and even contemplate suicide as they tirelessly wait for Godot. This play portrays hopelessness and frustration that often faces mankind as he tirelessly waits and hopes to achieve solutions to his problems without acting. It also portrays hopelessness of man as he continues to seek divine interventions for his problems, hoping that as time goes by, a solution will come up. The play further portrays the tireless waiting of Christ's return in Christianity, which seems to be infinite as the day for his return is not known. Furthermore, the play depicts inability of men to find scientific solutions to problems facing mankind in modern age, creating hopelessness and despair. Throughout the play, nothing is achieved as Godon never shows up, making the reader to question the existence of Godon in the first place. The theme of the play manifests from the beginning that nothing happens and nothing is achieved throughout the two scenes, creating a hopeless situation portrayed throughout the episodes of the play.
Waiting for Godot
Waiting for Godot follows two days of two men; Vladimir and Estragon who divert themselves as they expectantly wait Godot to arrive. The two men admit that they do not know Godot, although they argue that he is their acquaintance (Beckett 1988). They eat, sleep, sing, converse, play games and even contemplate suicide but abandon the idea when they realize that they may not die (Knowlson 1996). They do all these things to keep themselves occupied, while waiting for Godot. According to Beckett (1988), the two men do not seem to agree on whether they are in the right venue or not. Furthermore, they are not sure of the date that they were supposed to meet with Godot but the only thing they seem to agree on is that they are supposed to meet under a tree and there happens to be one nearby.
In the process of waiting and hoping that Godot would show up, Vladimir and Estragon are notified by a boy, who claims to be Godot's messenger that Godot is not coming that evening but would come to meet them on the following day (Beckett 1988). However, after tirelessly waiting for Godot to arrive the next day, the boy comes again to inform them that Godot is not coming but would come the next day (Beckett 1988). The two men are frustrated by Godot's failure to show up as they seem to have waited for an infinite period of time (Duckworth 2006). As portrayed by Beckett (1988), the two men attempt to leave the venue after the boy departs but they are unable to do so as none of them even attempts to take the first step. They further attempt to commit suicide in the process of nursing their frustrations but they end up more frustrated after their rope breaks into two pieces.
Duckworth (2006) points out that waiting for Godot is a play that has achieved a theoretical impossibility because nothing happens as Godot never shows up and the two men wait infinitely. The two men do not seem to have any alternative other than waiting for Godot. The phrase "nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it's awful" best describes the play "waiting for Godot" which is a perfect satire on human nature, showing how one keeps waiting for good things in life and they never come. Sinoi (2006) views Godot as compassion and argues that Waiting for Godot depicts a picture of how men wait for compassion from other people but it is never forthcoming. In addition, Godot is expected to bring new hopes in lives of the two men to enable them to move on but they end up being more frustrated when hope never comes (Fletcher 1969). They become more frustrated as they seem to have put all their hope in Godot, who in turn fails them. They even attempt to commit suicide to nurse their frustrations but again nothing happens because the rope breaks into two pieces. They further try to depart from the place where they had been waiting for Godot but again, nothing happens because none of them makes an attempt to move. This is a vicious circle of frustrations and hopelessness for the two men who expectantly wait for Godot.
The fruitlessness, and absurdist philosophy of futility continues in the second scene of the play as the two men continue to wait for Godot but achieve nothing at the end of it. Sion (2004) observes that waiting for Godot portrays two men who are not in control of their existence as Godot seems to be the only way for them and when he fails them, they are too frustrated to desire life as they attempt to commit suicide, which also fails. In agreement with Sion (2004), Duckworth (1972) points out that waiting for Godot is a satire on human condition of inaction and hoping for divine intervention to human problems, yet nothing happens, there are neither solutions nor divine interventions. In addition, human inaction or lack of attempt to find solutions for their problems in hope for divine interventions only leads to more frustrations, whose only solution could be to terminate one's life as seen in the attempt for two men to commit suicide.
Knowlson (1996) highlights that despite Beckett's apparent wariness of religion; the question of faith appears frequently in waiting for Godot. Most obviously, the metaphor stems from the eternal waiting that the Christians face in their belief that Christ will return to take them to heaven, a place of complete peace, abundance and happiness, but the time for his return is not known, yet nothings happens other than to continue waiting for infinitely for Christ. The play first addresses this central tenet faith in an early dialogue between Vladimir and Estragon, when Estragon asks Vladimir what they will do if Godot does not come and Vladimir says that they will come back tomorrow (Bryden 2004). Throughout these two main characters, Beckett portrays an entire race immobilized to inaction by religion and faith in Christ, who is represented by Godot (HelpMe 2011). Furthermore, the play is a Starkey bare narrative that conveys a deep sense of despair and emptiness with regard to life, showing a sense of dread and desperation in the existence of men and also depicts remarkable possibilities that arise from human effort, by simply showcasing a bleak world in which the inhabitants seem to do nothing (Cronin 1997). Similarly, the two acts show role reversal in the auxiliary characters Pozzo and Lucky as Sion (2004) observes that the role of masters and slaves is reversed in the second act showing the futility of attempts made by humans at controlling their lives.
Fowlie (1960) argues that Estragon and Vladimir symbolise the human condition as a period of waiting. He points out that many people spend their lives searching for goals, such as exam or jobs, in the hope of attaining a higher level or advancing, yet as Beckett suggests, no one advances through the inexorable passage of time. Inability to achieve change through waiting as portrayed in the play may be a mockery of all human endeavour, as it implies that mankind achieves nothing, and is ironically contradictory to Beckett's own endeavour. The tragicomedy of the play illustrates this, as two men are waiting for a man of whom they know little about. The anti-climaxes within the play represent the disappointment of life's expectations. For example Pozzo and Lucky's first arrival is mistaken for the arrival of Godot (Beckett 1988). These points reinforce Kierkagaard's theory that all life will finish as it began in nothingness and reduce achievement to nothing.
Beckett expresses in the play that time is an illusion or a 'cancer', as he referred to it, that feeds human beings with the lie that they progress, while destroying them Estragon and Vladimir through the play end as they begin have made no progress and have achieved nothing as they wait for Godot (Fowlie (1960). Furthermore, the few leaves that have grown on the tree by the second act may symbolize hope but more feasibly represent the illusive passage of time (Beckett 1988). Beckett wrote in his Proust essay that time is the 'poisonous' condition we are born to, constantly changing us without our knowing, finally killing us without our assent. A process of dying seems to take place within all four characters, mentally and physically. Estragon and Vladimir may be pictured as having a great future behind them, which turns out to be hopeless as time erodes Estragon's memory.
Fowlie (1960) argues that the play displays sheer randomness of life throughout its events. Life is portrayed as unfair, risky and arbitrary. Estragon shows the chance involved in the health of his lungs stating that his lung is very week. In addition, Estragon and Vladimir ponder why one out of the three thieves was saved, which displays the luck or misfortune involved in life. Fowlie (1960) observes that the chaos of this world portray absurdity of the characters throughout the play as human condition is portrayed as a period of suffering, a fact supported by Heidegger's remarks that human beings are thrown the world, in which suffering is part of existence. Proust describes this point as the, 'sin of being born', which Estragon and Vladimir refer to as Vladimir ponders about repenting being born. Estragon's references to Christ represent his sympathy towards suffering and symbolises human suffering (Beckett 1988).
Duckworth (1972) observes that although nothing happens was written in modern age of research and scientific discovery, it conveys the hopelessness that stems from the continuing failure of science to answer basic questions. The constant reference to futility of thought is strongly indicative of lack of faith in science and conveys the author's bleak view of human potential and intellect.
In conclusion, this play does not give any message rather than portraying the futility of life. The theme of the play is set from the beginning, that nothing happens and there is nothing to be done as the play's main characters engage in meaningless conversations and fruitless behavior throughout. Their conversation is redundant in nature since their words are never followed by actions, clearly depicting the theme, nothing happens and nothing is done.