Examining The Blending Of Scriptural Values English Literature Essay


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I believe Waiting for Godot is about constant search for the reason of one's existence. There is an uncountable conception of Beckett's play, but one cannot deny the content of Biblical references in it. As, in my opinion, the play is about the endless pursuit of the purpose of life, I believe this idea is strongly connected in most people's mind to religion.

Vladimir and Estragon, the two protagonists of the play, are quite different characters, but they share at least one thing in common: at certain points of the play they want to hang themselves. This is an ironic element, as they are meant to wait; this is their purpose, although they do not feel enough power themselves to fulfil it. The idea of suicide is, as I mentioned ironic, but also sorrowful motive in the play. One of the many ironic concept linked to it is the issue of the rope - they only have one, and even that one is weak for holding a human's weight. I believe this is an important thing, as suicide is definitely not the right choice for solving their problem. As the play is about an endless search, suicide as a solution would conflict with that main idea.

Suicide obviously shows that they are embittered of this constant waiting. Their exasperation is shown for instance when they beat up the blind Pozzo. It expresses bitter irony as the "sufferers promote suffering in their search for salvation". (1) In me it brings up mixed emotions. In one hand I actually feel pity for them a little bit, because I can sense that embittered pain what they may feel inside during that long wait, and that painful uncertainty of Godot. But on the other hand, I definitely feel disdain towards them, as they have beaten up a helpless person with no reason. I recon this is a point in the play when great emotions bust, which divide the spectators. They judge them differently as they did before. First they might felt pity for them, but now they are linked to violence and guilt. Also I guess there may be a hidden message behind this - and other similar - scene. According to Christianity, and to most other religions, you should not hurt your brethren. This is what they breach here, and, as we know, Godot does not come at the end. In my opinion from one point of view this is a clear biblical message to the reader.

Another thought connecting to Pozzo's beating might be the sense of power they experience during it. They enjoy being in control and having power above somebody else. As Vladimir says: "Let us do something while we have the chance! It is not every day that we are needed. Others would meet the case equally well, if not better. To all mankind they were addressed, those cries for help still ringing in our ears! But at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not. Let us make the most of it, before it is too late! Let us represent worthily for once the foul brood to which a cruel fate consigned us! What do you say? (Estragon says nothing.) It is true that when with folded arms we weigh the pros and cons we are no less a credit to our species. The tiger bounds to the help of his congeners without the least reflection, or else he slinks away into the depths of the thickets. But that is not the question. And we are blessed in this that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in this immense confusion one thing is clear. We are waiting for Godot to come." (2) We may say according to not only this quotation but the whole play that Vladimir is the more sensible of the two. I think that the sense and message of the play is in these few lines. Vladimir realises what is 'the meaning of life' we shall say - that one should live full life to feel pleased. No man has ever been happy sitting at one place waiting for something or someone. That is the reason people have hobbies, jobs, friends. And this is a Christian value as well-the religion gives much account to work and useful acts. No one will get salivated unless he does something for it in the eye of God.

The play is full with uncertain substances. They are not sure whether they came to the right place, he did not say for sure that he would come, so there is the possibility of him not coming, and what are they going to do then? Will they come back and wait? Did he say Saturday, and if yes, is it this Saturday? This uncertainty gives us a depressed and ambiguous atmosphere throughout the whole play.

Another theme of this uncertainty is the issue of names. Their names-Vladimir and Estragon-are never actually said in the play. Instead they call each other Gogo and Didi, and Vladimir is even called Mr. Albert by the boy. To carry anonymity even further, Estragon once, when asked for his name, answers that it is Catulle. We may say that this is because they represent all mankind.

The richness of scriptural references seems to suggest that Godot might be indeed God - he sends messengers and because of this, the protagonists' waiting is not pointless: Godot's exist is proved. What is not certain is what their chances regarding to him. As Bugliani says: „It is significant, too, that the messenger is a boy. The scriptural referents are undoubtedly Matthew 18:3: "I assure you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven;" and Mark 10:14: "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." (3) Children are blameless in the eye of God. Because of these reasons it may happen that the messenger is a boy. Also an interesting thing to note is that when the boy leaves the scene, the light which came with him disappears and darkness remains -it might be another 'sacred' sign.

As Bugliani writes: "Scripture is replete with exhortations to wait on the Lord. In the New Testament we read: "And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ" (II Thessalonians 3:5). Perhaps most important, however, is the following: "... We ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our bodies. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it" (Romans 8:23-25). (4) These statements and quotations are one claim about Godot referring to God. But most importantly, it shows that waiting is not pointless. Waiting is hope itself. If Godot would come, than hope would be replaced with completeness. He would be there, they do not need to hope for it anymore. As Bugliani explains: „Hope and faith only have meaning within the context of the unseen which is believed in and hoped for." (5) Maybe this is one of the messages of the play - hope should be never given up, we should hope until the end. If we consider the play this way, it is full of hope. In my opinion, this idea rifts sometimes, for example when they want to hang themselves. Although they do not succeed, it is not upon them. But I suppose these errors, downfalls show the weakness what all human being have, and also a Biblical element (Jesus' betrayal).

Interestingly in act 2 it is said that the so far bare tree has leaves now. "…the Biblical referents include Aaron's rod which blossomed as a sign to the rebellious that Aaron had been chosen by God and that divine favour rested on him (Num. 17:1-11); and Christ's cross, the instrument of death which also became the means of triumph over death, the path to life through the resurrection. (6) This could reflect hope to the reader and senselessly to the protagonists as well; „life present in what seemed dead" (7). But there is something extraordinary about a tree getting blooms in only one day. This impossible happening may show that this is probably not about the natural 'effect' of spring, but something more theoretical than change of seasons. But this brings no joy to Estragon who says that the best thing would be to kill him, „like the other". And „the other" is probably Jesus with whom he has compared himself before, and the tree, instead of hope, remains the possible object in the name of suicide.

To my concern this is a great play with not only a wonderfully built symbolic system, but a kind of personal message to everyone. I agree with Michael Myerberg, who says: "It very much reflects the hopelessness and dead end we've run into. What he's trying to say is: `All we have is ourselves-each other-and we may as well make the best of it.'" (8)


Pol Popovic Karic: Irony and Salvation in Waiting for Godot

Murray Schumach: Why They Wait for Godot ; The New York Times Magazine. p36

Ann Bugliani: The Biblical Subtext in Beckett's Waiting for Godot ; Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 16.1 (Fall 2001): p15-38. 7 old.

(4) Ann Bugliani: The Biblical Subtext in Beckett's Waiting for Godot p15-38. 4 old

(5) Ann Bugliani: The Biblical Subtext in Beckett's Waiting for Godot p15-38. 4 old

(6) Ann Bugliani: The Biblical Subtext in Beckett's Waiting for Godot p15-38 8 old.

(7) Ann Bugliani: The Biblical Subtext in Beckett's Waiting for Godot p15-38 8 old.

(8) Murray Schumach: Why They Wait for Godot, the New York Times Magazine. p36. 2 old

Reference Works:

Pol Popovic Karic: Irony and Salvation in Waiting for Godot

Murray Schumach: Why They Wait for Godot ; The New York Times Magazine. p36. 3 old.

Source: Drama for Students. Ed. David M. Galens and Lynn M. Spampinato. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 1998. From Literature Resource Center.

Document Type: Critical essay

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 1998 Gale Research, COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning

Ann Bugliani: The Biblical Subtext in Beckett's Waiting for Godot ; Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 16.1 (Fall 2001): p15-38. 7 old.

Source: Drama Criticism. Ed. Timothy J. Sisler. Vol. 22. Detroit: Gale, 2004. From Literature Resource Center.

Document Type: Critical essay

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale, COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning

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