“Waiting for Godot”
written by Samuel Becket is taken as literary expression of existentialism
which is the ideology of late modernist bourgeoisie. The whole play revolves
around existentialism that reflects the themes of nihilism, nothingness,
absurdity and futility. Human beings are exploited by the prevalent forces of
bourgeois in Marxism. In this play Marxism has its close ties with the theme of
absurdity and existentialist philosophy. The main theme of this play is also
The bourgeois ideology is
based on absences, silences and noteworthy breaches. The text of this play is
diverse, dispersed, irregular and scattered thus creating contradiction and
conflict in the meaning of the text. These loop holes are directly related to
the bourgeois ideology in the late modernism. The repeated phrase “Nothing to
be done” is representing the bourgeois ideology as it is causing confusion and
In the play Estragon and Vladimir
are continuously and endlessly waiting for an unknown figure “Godot”. One
aspect of existentialism suggests that life is moving in a cyclic order and the
things happening will happen again. As in “Waiting for Godot” the two major
characters Estragon and Vladimir are repeating themselves in their pattern and
style of dialogue as “nothing to be done” is repeated again and again. Not only
the words or dialogues are repeated but the actions are also repeated. For
instance, on the first day Lucky and Pozzo pass these two characters and a boy
also visits, to tell them about Godot and same happens the next day as well.
The very act of waiting is also repeated in a cyclic manner.
The play reflects the
conflicts between spiritual and religious beliefs through the depiction of
existentialist philosophy. This philosophy refers to the discovery of meaning
of life through personal experiences of man in this world. The main characters
refer to humanity in general. Through the character of Vladimir, Samuel
represents the fraction of the humanity that follows religion and spirituality
to seek guidance. While Estragon represents the other half of humanity that believes
in the construction of meaning of life through their personal experiences.
Let’s wait and see what he says.
Let’s wait till we know exactly how we stand.
On the other hand it might be better to strike the iron before it freezes
This conversation shows
that Vladimir holds the idea that they should wait for Godot to guide them
while Estragon asserts that they are running out of time, so they should take
action and move on. This suggests that man should wait no longer for religion
to answer their queries and should act according to the existentialist
philosophy. Vladimir is going against the existentialist philosophy by blindly
accepting the information given by the boy about Godot. This very instance is
also showing the blind faith of men in religion. As the Christians have learned
not to question God and believe whatever is told to them about God.
What does he do, Mr. Godot? (Silence.) Do you hear me?
He does nothing, Sir.
How is your brother?
He’s sick, Sir. (106)
The identity of Godot is
ambiguous and not revealed throughout the play. This ambiguity is created by
Beckett to emphasize the notion of existentialism. Godot refers to the
spiritual realm that is beyond our understanding. That’s why the writer is
suggesting pondering upon the present existence other than spiritual and
Vladimir and Estragon are
waiting for Godot but in reality, they hardly know him. This describes the
absurdity and nothingness of human existence in this world. In the whole play
the characters are struggling to pass the time. So, they devised games to spend
their spare time. The characters in the play are always shown in pairs.
Estragon and Vladimir are of the concept that they will remain happy after
departing but they stay together. The reason for the continuity of their
relationship is for the sake, to pass their time. When Pozzo and Lucky visit
them, they feel entertained and comment:
That passed the time.
It would have passed in any case.
later when Estragon finds his boots again:
What about trying them.
I’ve tried everything.
No, I mean the boots.
Would that be a good thing?
It’d pass the time. I assure you, it’d be an occupation.
Through the master slave
relationship between Lucky and Pozzo the Marxist ideology is highlighted. Pozzo
is the master while Lucky is his submissive slave. The reason for Pozzo and Lucky to remain
together is their need. Pozzo is dependent on Lucky for his tasks like carrying
bags and giving orders. On the other hand, Lucky is dependent on Pozzo to have
food and shelter.
The concept of
existentialism became popular during World War 2 in France. As wars leave men,
anxious and hopeless with no meaning in life and just simply living, unable to
decide about their future. Existentialism tends to give meaning to life through
struggle and hope. The playwrights were deeply affected by this unrest
political scenario, so they used the existential philosophy to urge people to
take action in order to come out of despair and make their lives purposeful.
Waiting for Godot has no
plot and this absence is providing the pointless existence. This play is
revealing the worse condition of human existence.
Thus, in nutshell “Waiting
for Godot” covers all the aspects of Bourgeoisie ideology where themes like
absurdity, existentialism and Marxism are highlighted through the actions of
characters. It explores the philosophy of existentialism by comprehending and
assigning meaning to life. It tackles with the issue of anxiety due to
existence and also gives solution to men to avoid their boredom by taking
action. It deals with religious implicatures by profoundly questioning them. In
the end we can say “Waiting for Godot “is a confusion, mystery and puzzle.