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Thematic Conceptualizations in "Waiting for Godot."

Updated on May 6, 2020
Resham Jehangir profile image

I have a Masters Degree in English Literature and an in-depth understanding about variable dimensions of literary expressions and art.

Waiting for Godot and the Exposition of the Modern Man.

The names Estragon and Vladimir are well known figures in the realm of literary studies as well as recreational reading. The two protagonists of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" are entangled in an absurd struggle to provide meaning to their boredom-ridden life. While sitting beside a withering tree and endlessly waiting for the mysterious creature "Godot", the two men reflect upon the true meaning of their existence in tragically comic manner. Their menial gestures, seemingly insignificant movements and pointless debates baffle the readers as they struggle to find meaning behind this vertex of bizarre actions. However, the fact of the matter is that the drama is an accurate and focused evaluation of the dilemma of the modern man who struggles with similar identity crisis every day.

As a philosophy of life, the Existentialist narrative surfaced in the backdrop of the Second World War. At this devastating juncture in human history, man had lost all hope for redemption. He had no reason to strive for existence, for previously held anchors like religion and nationalism had failed him. When the catastrophic implications of WWll left the void exposed, Existentialism came to the rescue. This tale of sheer pessimism and lack of belonging is best illustrated in the play, "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett. Regarded as the "play which revolutionized the face of modern drama", this artistic masterpiece is in fact a true verbal illustration of the existential dilemma of the modern man. This man is desperately striving to find relevance and meaning in life when the era of 'Industry 4.0' has declared his existence futile and insignificant.

Basic Propositions of the Existentialist Philosophy:

Existentialism is a pessimistic outlook towards life which views the world from the perspective of gloom and dismay. This philosophical discourse narrates the condition of Human Beings as being one of a lost soul, wandering around the limitless seas of despair with no hope in sight. The universe which hosts the species of Homo Sapiens appears to them like a void with no outlet for escape. Such alienated existence of Man, rotting away beneath the sands of anguish and despair, finds solace in the arms of an Existentialist when he talks about the human condition under the pretext of "Absurdism." Absurdity seeks to capture the unshakable will of humanity to carry on living without any logical indispensability of his existence. This philosophical inclination stresses on the meaninglessness of life by highlighting the futile indulgences of meager men. This is where the two protagonists, Estragon and Vladimir, seem to be most relevant in terms of the existentialist narrative.


“Estragon: We always find something, eh Didi, to give us the impression we exist?

Vladimir: Yes, yes, we're magicians.”

— Samuel Beckett

Existence for the Sake of Existence:

Throughout the course of the drama, the two main characters do not seem to move from the point of their initial location. They are immobile in a world which has no specific time frame, devoted purpose or even established systems. In fact, the entire plot line revolves around sheer uncertainty and insecurity. Amidst this chaos of nothingness, the two characters do little to nothing to alter their fate. They appear to be blind conformists being swayed around by the merciless tide of time. All they do is simply exist, without actually endeavoring to inject meaning and purpose to their existence. This high level of plot absurdity makes this play such an exquisite masterpiece of the "Absurdist Theater" in particular and an epitome reflection of the philosophy of Existentialism in general.


Estragon: Well, shall we go?

Vladimir: Yes, let's go.

(They do not Move)

— Samuel Beckett

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    • Resham Jehangir profile imageAUTHOR

      Resham Jehangir 

      2 weeks ago from Pakistan

      Exactly sir. Circumstances like these prompt you to really wonder about the existentialist questions of life.

    • rebelogilbert profile image

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      2 weeks ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      We're going through a pandemic crisis right now, Resham. "Waiting for Godot," seems like a perfect play to read once I get a chance.

    • Issam masmodi profile image

      Issam El Masmodi 

      2 weeks ago

      A landmark in the theatre of the absurd

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