Becket’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ is considered as the greatest absurd modernist play,
which portrays man’s psychological and social condition in post-world war II Europe.
This play is closely tied to the late modernist
bourgeois ideology, as it encompasses conflict, differences and contradiction of
meanings. However, the play has ahistorical viewpoint,
predisposition towards the perception of absurdity,
uncertainty and futility of waiting and the nihilism
existence. Samuel Becket pioneered
to represent the picture of his societal surroundings. The havoc and
uncertainty that was very common at that time is truly reflected through this drama.
In this essay we will focus on several postmodern themes that Samuel Becket
uses in his drama ‘Waiting for Godot’ to present his social crowd. Moreover, we
have explored this play by highlighting the theme of existentialism and
Marxism, and by scrutinizing the political interpretations of the play as well.
absurd play ‘Waiting for Godot’ highly consumes the philosophy of
existentialism, which is reflected by the
presence of the late modernist bourgeois ideology.
The play starts with the pessimist utterance ‘Nothing to be done’ (Beckett Samuel, 1956, p.9)
that introduces his viewers to the absurd world in which there is a confusion
that is shrouded in the enigma of the late modernist bourgeois ideology. Although the phrase is used in
connection to Estragon’s boots here, but it is also later used by Vladimir with
respect to his hat. Essentially, it describes the hopelessness of their lives
where they find nothing to act, or to think. Samuel
Becket has highlighted the issues of individuality, freedom of individuality
and of their choices in a way that paint the true picture of postmodern man. After World War II, people became considerate
about their existence in this universe. Existential
philosophy became prevalent in the twentieth century as a symbol of the
destruction of culture and tradition following World War II, asserting the
hopelessness of humanity and focusing on life in a more honest but pessimistic
manner than other socialistic philosophies. The existentialist argument is that humans must break the habit of
expecting salvation, and take matters into their own hands in order to bring
meaning into their lives and live as free men. Many themes of
existentialism such as absurdity, nothingness, futility, uncertainty, nihilism
and angst which result in the sufferings of human are also followed by this
Samuel Becket presents the issues regarding the
uncertainty of the Human’s individual self. In the play, people are unaware of
their selves. This unawareness of their individuality is demonstrated by the
names of characters and their psychological problems. The names of two main
characters Vladimir and Estragon are not fixed. They keep on changing with the
progression in the drama. For instance, in the beginning these two characters were
introduced to viewers as Vladimir and Estragon. Then we see the shift in their
names as Gogo and Didi for Estragon and Vladimir respectively. Furthermore, we
have also seen that boy, a messenger from Godov is calling Vladimir as Albert.
It depicts that these characters may do not have fixed identity or personality.
The impact of existentialism can also be grasped when a character fails to recall
anything and forgets all. Since
Estragon cannot remember anything, he needs Vladimir to tell him his history.
It is as if Vladimir is establishing Estragon’s identity by remembering for him.
These dialogues show the mental illness of the postmodern man who do not have
knowledge of their conscious acts. Thus, both men serve to remind the other man
of his very existence. This is necessary since no one else in the play ever