“Waiting for Godot”: Realism
“Waiting for Godot” occupies a prominent place in the annals of English literature for highlighting the basic truths of human beings belonging to any age or religion. The play can be interpreted in various ways. It is a play in which fact and fancy, illusion and reality are mingled together. In “Waiting for Godot” man’s sufferings, whether physical or metaphysical, are shown in such a way that we feel them as our own suffering. The play is a mirror of our age because it shows the inner hollowness, helplessness and meaninglessness of modern man’s life.
The theme of the play has a universal appeal. The tramps represent all humanity. Their sufferings are the sufferings of all human beings; no matter in which country they live in or what religious beliefs they have. They reflect modern man’s loneliness, absurdity, forgetfulness, illusions, waiting condition, deferred hope, physical suffering, mental anguish, death wish and isolation.
The main subject of the play is waiting and the act of waiting is an essential aspect of the human condition. Vladimir says:
“We’re waiting for Godot”
And the sentence is repeated in the course of the play like a refrain. It is not clear in the play who or what Godot is. The tramps themselves have only a vague idea of who Godot is. They wait for him in a state of ignorance or helplessness. The play thus depicts waiting, ignorance and boredom and all these things are directly experienced by us in life, wait is essential – the offer of a job, the possibility of promotion, the return of a long-lost friend, a love letter etc. Thus we discover a common ground between ourselves and the two tramps who are waiting for Godot.
The play highlights the theme of habit, boredom and “the suffering of being”. The play is a fable about a kind of life that has no longer any point. Godot may stand for God. Or for a mythical human being or for a meaning of life or for death but the play is a representation of stagnant life. The heroes or anti-heroes are merely alive but a life without action and purpose. In our world, millions of people do not act but are acted. The tramps, in spite of their inaction and pointlessness of their existence, still want to go on.
The millions of people today do not give up living when their life becomes pointless. Thus the plight of two tramps is no different than that of an average man and that’s why people are able to respond to the play. It is not without reason that Estragon suggests hanging as a remedy. Under the condition in which we live, most of us have subconsciously thought of hanging ourselves. The mood of despair is not limited but has become a general attitude of the people.
Lucky and Pozzo represent the master-slave relationships through centuries. The pathetic and miserable condition of Lucky represents the exploited class of all ages and Pozzo the exploiter. Pozzo is a capitalist of our times who suck the blood of the poor and then throws them away like a peel of a banana. But even then both the classes are interdependent upon each other.
The play is valid for all those who can assimilate the general anguish into their particular experience and thus translate it into their own terms. “Nothing to be done” is the main dilemma of our life. In spite of having got marvellous progress in all fields of life, man is still in confusion and perplexity of mind. His moral scruples prevent him from doing something wrong but at the same time, his worldly lust incites him to do the same wrong. Beckett makes us realize that man is the main cause of the suffering of man. The contrast between the relationships of the two pairs of characters becomes an important clue for the understanding of the play and produces certain echoes in us.
In nutshell, we may say “Waiting for Godot” is a mirror in which everyone can see his own face because of Vladimir and Estragon’s problems of everyman. We are all waiting for the reality of our existence. Every day we turn the page of our life with this hope that perhaps today the reality will out but in the end, we still remain unknown. That’s why they play touches the apex of appreciation by an audience of prisoners at San Quentin in the USA because they were confronted with their own experiences of time, waiting, hope and despair. Thus the play is a mirror of our times and there is enough in the play, which can be called the echo of our own mind and heart.
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