“Waiting for Godot” Relevancy for us

  • November 13, 2021
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Is Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” relevant for us today?

“Waiting for Godot” is a play, that has theme of boredom, no female character, no love story, very less action and no development in the plot yet it is successful play of Samuel Beckett and has been translated in many language. It has been performed in many countries by different types of actors. The play depicts a human activity i.e. waiting for an unknown person or entity called Godot. Whether Godot is an object, an entity or a person, it is never revealed and the play finishes while characters are waiting for him. It starts with waiting and ends with it. The purpose of the play is unexplained. Vivian Mercier, while commenting on the play says that it is a play in which “nothing happens, twice”. We see no story and no message in it. It depicts a situation, which is generally applicable to every human. Two characters come on the stage and try to spend their time in useless activities. They talk but it has no meaning at all. Even sometimes, they try to abuse each other so that they can pass the time. Their purpose is to wait for someone and during wait they can do nothing. Time and again repetition of dialogue “nothing to be done” suggests the meaninglessness in life. Both these characters are less important because they serve no purpose in development of the plot. The thing, which is important, is Godot, whose coming is expected. Audience also waits for Godot along with Estragon and Vladimir but he does not come and play ends as it started. When Samuel Becket, writer of the play, has been asked; who is Godot? He replied: “If I knew, I would have said so in the play”. If no one knows about Godot even after watching the play, then what is its purpose and why it has been discussed and watched up till now? The answer may not be as simple as it seems but it is clear that the play still has freshness and relevance even today. That’s why students of literature are still discussing it.

“Waiting for Godot” is the name of a situation. First and foremost element, due to which the play is relevant for us even today is that it answers the question “How to get through life?” Very wittily, the writer has answered this question by sketching two characters, who do nothing in the whole play. They know that life is full of pains, miseries and sufferings. They have no other option to spend their lives except to talk and abuse each other. They have nothing to do; therefore, it is much difficult for them to pass the time. Even they try to commit suicide but fail to do so, therefore, they have only an option and that is to continue their struggle. Life remained purposeless in every era. In the present day, no difference can be faced in this regard. Even today’s life is meaningless. Everyone is busy and has priorities but for what purpose? They came in the world empty handed and will go with empty hands. Their busy lives will have no value after their death. We, like Estragon and Vladimir are trying to spend our lives. How many of us are living life? 10%? 5%? or even less? We are not living life; we are passing it. In order to get through life, we have to talk, be absurd. Silence is not an option for us nor for Estragon and Vladimir, therefore, both the characters pass their time while doing absurd things and abusing each others. In this play, the situation is worst for Vladimir and Estragon and to deal with it they have a solution; they can spend life: by force of habit, by going on in spite of boredom and pain, by talking, by not listening to the silence and absurdly. It is a lesson, which should be learnt. Thus, the play is relevant for us because it tells us how to get through life.

A picture of human application has been given in the play i.e. wait. Two persons are waiting for someone and he is not even introduced with the audience. Neither Estragon and Valdmir know about him nor has the audience been informed about him till end of the play. His identity remains mystery for the audience yet the conclusion can be drawn that Godot is the name of hope. As discussed above, situation has become worst for Vladimir and Estragon but they still have hope that Godot will come and with his coming their life will be changed. Earnest Hemingway has said that “every day is a new day”; what may be the reason behind it but it is sure that every day comes with a new hope. Estragon and Vladimir are doing the same. They are waiting for hope and so as we; a hope, which can change lives. Many of us are waiting for good days. Although the life has become meaningless for many of us but still we are living with a hope that one day it will be changed. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan has written an essay titled “Umeed Ki Kiran”, in which he has very beautifully explained the importance of hope in life. He says that if a prisoner is alive in the lockup, the reason behind it is: optimism; he has hope that one day he will get free from prison and will spend a free life. Many of us are struggle in our lives with the hope that one day we will become successful. Aren’t we doing so? Are not our lives are similar to Estragon and Vladimir even today? The answer is yes. Everyone has hope for better things in life. Whether hope (Godot) comes or not, it depends; if it comes then well and good; go on and wait for better; if not then again wait for it. It is the theme of play. Ending of the play does end the struggle of Estragon and Vladimir. We know that they will come again tomorrow and will repeat their activity of waiting. It is the only option for them and for many of us. Hence, it is also an element in the play, due to which, it is applicable on us even today.

Apart from above, there are number of reasons due to which, the play is relevant for us. There is still element of hope; many of us are waiting for Godot; life is still undefined and meaningless; we, daily, wait for something/someone like Estragon and Vladimir; there is still class consciousness as presented through Pozo and Lucky. The play is not about Godot. Meaning thereby, it is not about what will happen if Godot comes; it is about his wait. It is about the situation before hope. Thus, it is about life of individuals on earth not hereafter. Wait is still a common human activity, which is faced by every individual at least once in his daily life. In this way, it is certain that “Waiting for Godot” is relevant for us today.

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