Theatrical Technique In Waiting For Godot English Literature Essay
One of the main themes in Beckett’s, Waiting for Godot is that we shouldn’t just be waiting for God, an abstract religious figure to come to make miracles happen. Rather, we should be self-sufficient and do the tasks that make those miracles events attributed to God possible. This underlying message is very important in light of the many unexpected events happening in the world today. Last month, there was a natural disaster that left Japan devastated. At the same time, political conflict was initiated in the Middle East that unsettled the world economy. Beyond that, according to the Mayan calendar, the apocalypse is allegedly going to happen in the year 2012. Amidst these disasters many may be questioning who to or where to turn. Many have turned to and rely solely on God or other religious figures, expecting miracles to happen in their lives. Given the current situation, I - as a believer in god – have been inspired to question whether we should take heed of the underlying message in Waiting for Godot, a message that is made clear through the use of symbolism, temporal distortion, and repetition.
Symbolism is the technique Beckett uses to highlight the religious context of the book. In the book, Vladimir and Estragon represent the two halves of mankind: Vladimir represents the mental half, while Estragon represents the physical half. This symbolic dichotomy is heavily expressed through the polemic behaviors of Vladimir and Estragon. Estragon is always preoccupied with his physical welfare rather than his spiritual one, which makes as a simplistic character. However, both characters despite their overwhelm differences, they do share one thing in common which is they are both dependent on God to perform miracles in their lives. In the book, the only thing they do is sit under the tree, waiting for “Godot”, Godot obviously represents God. He is a person who has never been seen, but who people still believe will make sense of the world and their lives for them. In addition to these characters, there are two other symbolic characters within the book, the boy who represents the Bible and Pozzo, who represents the false prophet. At the end of both acts, this boy delivers a message from Godot; “Mr. Godot told me to tell you he won’t come this evening but surely tomorrow” (Beckett 55). This message is very similar to the Book of Revelation 22:12, which states “Look! I am coming soon! I bring my rewards with me. I will reward each person for what he has done.” These two messages are parallel in that they both reassure them that God/ Godot is coming, but do not absolutely specify when he will come. Pozzo is an authoritarian figure. He possesses the trait of being decisive, powerful, and very confident in all situations. With these traits, it made Estragon and Vladimir immediately mistakenly thought that he is Godot who the two were expected to arrive at any time. Although it was a misunderstanding as Pozzo himself said he isn’t god but does have god-like features, as mentioned in act I; “As far as one can see. Of the same species as myself. Of the same species as Pozzo! Made in God’s image” (Beckett 19).
In addition to the symbolism in the characters, Beckett uses the technique of symbolism on the objects within the play. Examples of the objects are Estragon’s boots, Pozzo’s watch, carrots and turnips, and the tree and its leaves. Referencing act II, Estragon was having a problem putting his boots on. He attempted to put it on and off multiple times but it wasn’t at all successful. It was enough for the two to come in conclusion that there is nothing they can do to fix the situation. It makes the boots symbolizes the feeling of hopelessness that occurs after a decent amount of time has passed. The source of hopelessness came from the fact that Godot didn’t come and left Vladimir and Estragon hoping for his presence in their lives. Both of the characters are humans. They have feelings and being kept to wait for someone who has never met before for a very long time, surprisingly they kept on waiting although hopelessness started to crept into them. In addition to Estragon’s unfit boots, Pozzo’s watch is also an indicator for the passage of time. Out of all the characters, Pozzo seems to be one who mostly understands the concept of time and values it. In act I, Pozzo constantly consults his watch to see the time and the passage of time. However in act II he unfortunately lost his watch. Pozzo without his watch makes him a blind person who is not able to keep track of time and lost the concept of time entirely. With this example, it shows that time is very important in our lives. Without time mankind wouldn’t function properly. Another example for the importance of time is Beckett’s use of small comic trivial dialogue between Vladimir and Estragon about carrots and turnips. The dialogue is very trivial and useless but the fact that it happened was Vladimir and Estragon have nothing to do while waiting for Godot, so the purpose of this conversation is mainly to allow time to pass by. From the two symbols that signify the importance of time, it can be concluded that Beckett is trying to support his viewpoint that we shouldn’t just be waiting for God but rather should be self-sufficient and do the tasks that make those miracles attributed to God possible. The last significant symbol in the book is the tree and its leaves. In act I, the tree was described as infertile and has a dead appearance. It was assumed by Vladimir that, “It must be dead” (Beckett 8). Death in many ways signifies hopelessness. However, the unexpected happened. In act II, the leaves started to sprout on the tree. For a dead looking tree which was assumed to be dead to blossom leaves out of nowhere signifies hope. The hope that Godot/God made a miracle and it is the sign he is on his way to meet Vladimir and Estragon. Besides from the symbolism that the tree and its leaves gives, the situation itself lights up the mood of the reader as it gives a sense of hope from within particularly when the characters are in a terrible physical condition. Yet, it is realized that this hope is temporary because Godot did not show up at any point within the play but sent the boy to give the message, “Mr. Godot told me to tell you he won’t come this evening but surely tomorrow” (Beckett 55). Also it is possible that when the two characters first seen the tree, it wasn’t the season for it to blossom which makes it appear to have a dead looking but in it is the appropriate season the tree blossoms and shed leaves at the end of it.
Beckett is a modernist who believes that time gives the illusion of order, security and structure to mankind. This is because time allows us to know when things are going to happen. By distorting time, it makes humans become victims to time. Control is taken from us and we are left to struggle to find order in the world. In Waiting for Godot, time has been distorted. The examples of time distortion are the random orientation of the day and nighttime, the lack of memory about yesterday and the elusive existence of tomorrow. The random orientation of day and nighttime e.g. the immediate falling of the sun makes Vladimir and Estragon needs to calling the waiting for Godot a day and looking for shelter. For the lack of memory about yesterday and the elusive existence of tomorrow, it happened in the second act of Waiting for Godot. Having Estragon and Vladimir experience these two things shows that Beckett thinks that the concept of time is meaningless because the only thing that is important in our lives is the present. Waiting for Godot to come tomorrow which isn’t surely going to come is meaningless in Beckett’s idea. He thinks that the most important thing is to do the present in the best of our abilities because nobody knows whether tomorrow will exist or not it is a conceptualized word that indicates a specific time. It is concluded that to the present in the best of our abilities is meant by that we shall not wait for god to perform miracles in our lives tomorrow but is to make the best out of the present and to stop waiting for god as it is meaningless.
In Beckett’s Waiting for Godot repetition is considered to be a very essential element to the story’s structure and is one of the tools that take the point that we shall be self-sufficient and do the tasks that make those miracles events attributed to God possible across. The two major repetitions in the book are the literature’s plot and phrase repetition. For the literature plot, it is structured to be very cyclical in both of the acts e.g. the character’s appearance with the book. The character appearance of the book is as the following; Vladimir and Estragon will be waiting for Godot under the tree, Pozzo will walk up to them to talk, although the first act they are healthy while the second act he is dumb and blind and the last appearance is where the boy comes as the messenger to tell the two that Godot will come tomorrow. Using the literature’s structure repetition is one way trying to show that time has gone by so fast but the routine of Vladimir and Estragon is still the same which is to wait for Godot. From the plot, nothing has become better for the characters but it became worst. If Vladimir and Estragon has stopped waiting for Godot and start doing other things in their lives, things might have ended in a better way because what they are doing is a vicious cycle of waiting for the unknown existence which in the end hasn’t made any different in their lives. For the phrase repetition, the most used phrase is “waiting for Godot” throughout the entire book. As an observation, this phrase is also the book title which makes it very obvious that to wait for Godot one of the main themes of the story itself. The phrase “waiting for Godot” has repetitively been used as a response of the action that Vladimir and Estragon are doing. Using the phrase multiple times shows that this action has been done for a very long time and it has never been accomplished. It is considered to be Beckett’s attempt to show that waiting for Godot/God for miracles would not accomplish anything in the end.
The book has shown one of the main themes which is that we shouldn’t just be waiting for God, an abstract religious figure to come to make miracles happen. Waiting for someone ot something that doesn’t have definitive existence can make us lose hope in doing great things. As at the end of Waiting for Godot , Vladimir and Estragon lost all their hope and were planning to hang themselves. It they have decided to stop waiting for Godot and move on with their lives, thing wouldn’t end as anticipated. Although, Waiting for Godot is just a book, but after it has been heavily examined, the book is a good reflection of our lives today. There are many people who are still waiting for miracles to happen with good faith especially in amidst of a natural disaster. Many people have lost their property and love ones, which left them in devastation. Many have turned towards religious figures and wait for miracles to happen with good faith. However, the world today doesn’t consist with only good people but there are also bad people with malicious intentions who use the faith in people to take an advantage of like Pozzo who nearly took advantage of Vladimir and Estragon by claiming to be God. In order for people to not be taken advantage of, it is best for the people to be as self-sufficient as possible and make miracles happen in our lives with our own hands, not just solely waiting for God. It has been shown in many people’s lives including myself that miracles can happen through self-determination, hard work and self-worth. It is at least something concrete and possible as it is better to do something than nothing at all.
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