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Existentialism in Waiting for Godot | Philosophy in Existential Plays
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“Waiting for Godot” is a play in which Samuel Beckett adopted the doctrine of existentialism. Critics call it one of the prominent existentialist plays that demonstrate theme of existentialism as main story of the play. However, certain elements are there in it that reveal theme of nihilism too. Nihilism and existentialism are two distinct things still it seems that Samuel Beckett combined them in order show superiority of Existentialism. Some of the critics are of the opinion that “Waiting for Godot” is neither entirely on existentialism nor entirely on nihilism but somewhere in between.

Whats is Existentialism?
Jean Paul Sartre and Martin Heidegger presented theory of existentialism in which they stated that humans had been thrown in a meaningless universe in which they had no purpose at all. They were put in absurd situation by an unknown force and were living in mental pains and sufferings. Life is terrible or not, it is not the topic relevant to theory of existentialism. Hence, main reason behind sufferings of humans is not the terrible world but that they are freely living in it. They are free to choose but irony is that no choice is given to them but existentialism believes that even not making a choice is a choice. In concise words, existentialism is theory that believes “man is what he does”.

Read More on Existentialism:

Existentialism in Literature | Movement in Literature and Philosophy

Existentialism in “Waiting for Godot:
“Waiting for Godot” is indeed a play that demonstrates theme of existentialism. Two main characters of the play named as Vladimir and Estragon are put into an absurd situation just like humans have been put in the world without any purpose. In whole play they do nothing to change their miserable condition. Existentialism emphasizes on the practice of doing something and creating a purpose while accepting existence in this world. Hence, they have freewill to make their life better. They can come out of this situation and can give their lives a meaning but they do nothing. Estragon’s dialogue is notable in this regard. He says:

“Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful.”

Estragon- Waiting for Godot
He knows that his situation is awful yet he does nothing to make it better.

Read more at:
https://askliterature.com/drama/samuel-beckett/waiting-for-godot/existentialism-in-waiting-for-godot/
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