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Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (2004)

In Samuel Beckett’s

Waiting for Godot

, a play belonging to the Theatre of the Absurd, human behavior and thinking are criticized by examining the lives of two tramps that spend their existence waiting for someone, an individual named Godot, who will never come. By examining their lives, Beckett creates in the reader both pleasure and a sense of loss of both security and peace of mind.

Waiting for Godot

, a tragicomedy in two acts, produces a sense of pleasure in the reader. The absurdities of two tramps, Vladimir and Estragon, make the reader feel superior to them, and therefore feel joy. The tramps waste their time walking to nowhere, gazing, and having pointless conversations that lead to nowhere, just to pass the time faster. For example, in the First Act, Estragon’s boots don’t fit him; however the same boots fit him perfectly in the Second Act. Lucky’s dance and speech are also absurd, and create enjoyment. In addition, it is funny when the characters look at their hats as a source of ideas and inspiration, in the same way a vast majority of humans look for a superior being to feed those necessities. In another level, another source of enjoyment is the theme, setting, and the literary style used by Beckett. The author decided to give symbols to the characters. The two protagonists represent a human being divided in two; Vladimir represents the mind while Estragon represents the body. This can be a source of pleasure as it makes the reader ponder and get insight without creating insecurity or discomfort. Finally, the reader can get pleasure from the characters after they decide that they will not make the same mistake that they did by not

Waiting for Godot



The disquietude, or loss of peace of mind and security, is created in the reader by analyzing key aspects of human life in an absurd and exaggerated way. As an existentialist, Beckett wants to show that humans spend their lives waiting and trying to find a purpose. In this type of life, represented in the play, time becomes meaningless, and past, present and future become equivalent. The reader only knows that time passed because the tree acquired four or five leaves between the two acts. Subsequently, Vladimir and Estragon remain the same throughout the play. Through exaggeration, Beckett wants to emphasize that in the play there is absolutely no progress as time passes. Moreover, as there are only men in the play, there is no source of new life in nature which adds to the feeling of lack of progression. The author creates disquietude as the reader is obliged to evaluate objectively his own life while losing the sense of security as he begins to ponder about the progress in his life, and how it differs from Vladimir’s and Estragon’s life.


Another source of disquietude in the play is the memory in the characters. In the Second Act, Estragon forgets everything that happened the previous day, all of the First Act. Additionally, two additional characters, Pozzo and Lucky, don’t remember that they met the two tramps previously. Interestingly, the only character that retains memory is Vladimir. Beckett wants to create agitation and discomfort in the reader as memory is linked to both hope and progress. If Estragon could remember the previous days in which he has waited unsuccessfully, he will eventually reach the conclusion that he is getting nowhere. Moreover, as they are unable to remember the previous good times, they are incapable of hoping for better times. Finally, lacking memory results in an individual or society that makes the same mistakes repeatedly. This results in a reader that gets frustrated, and that loses his peace of mind as he has to ponder about their memory and examine if they are making the same mistakes, or wasting their time "

Waiting for Godot

" without progressing, or hoping for better times to come. On the other hand, losing the memory causes a loss of security as the person won’t be able to remember "accurately" their past, a key aspect of their identities. As anyone ages, the memory capabilities are incredibly diminished and the disquietude will increase.


Religion is also a source of disquietude in this play. Beckett communicates through the play the idea that "God is dead." He even expresses through Vladimir that even the Gospels can be contradictory, referring to the thief that was allegedly saved. As part of human psychology, humans tend to look for a superior force as a source of inspiration, sense of security and peace of mind, and something or someone that will give them a purpose. By questioning these pillars, Beckett creates agitation in the conscious reader.


As an anonymous critic once said, a literary work of high quality, such as

Waiting for Godot

, should produce a "healthy confusion" of disquietude and pleasure. Beckett’s play creates effectively a strong disturbance in the reader’s mind as they question their existence and their purpose in earth. A conscious reader will be challenged intellectually by this play, while he is able to get enjoyment and insight from it.