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Research paper topic: Waiting For Godot: Samuel Becketts Theatre Of The Absurd - 1082 words
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.. the expectation of Estragon and Vladimir (SGSB, 44). Characterization is another tool implemented to the end of absurdism. The quarreling couple, Vladimir and Estragon have complementary personalities. Vladimir is more masculine or Apollonian: practical, persistent, serious and strong.
Estragon is more feminine or Dionysian: a poet, volatile, dreaming, skeptical and weak. At times, through their incessant bickering, it is suggested that they disunite. Yet it is the differences in their natures that make them highly compatible, to the point that one is incomplete without the other. Beaten up by mysterious strangers every night, Estragon is protected by Vladimir who sings him to sleep with a lullaby, and covers him with his coat. It becomes evident to the reader that Estragon and Vladimir are dependent on one another, and need to stay together.
(Esslin, TA, 27-28). Vladimir and Estragon meet the enigmatic duo, Pozzo and Lucky. These are an equally complementary pair, although their relationship is less enlightened. Pozzo is the sadistic master of Lucky, his masochistic slave. Lucky carries not only Pozzo's baggage, but also the whip with which Pozzo beats him. Lucky, in his prime, had taught Pozzo the higher values of life "beauty, grace, truth of the first water" (Beckett in TA, 28).
Once his mentor, Lucky is now degraded to dancing and "thinking" for Pozzo's entertainment. Ironically, it is Pozzo that complains of the untold suffering that Lucky's old age has caused him. Pozzo and Lucky represent the relationship between body and mind: the material and spiritual sides of mankind, with the intellect subordinate to the appetites of the body (Esslin, TA, 28). In the first act, they are en route to the fair where Pozzo plans to sell Lucky. Rich, and powerful, Pozzo represents the worldly man who basks in the glory of "short-sighted optimism" (Esslin, TA, 28).
In the second act, the pair returns. Lucky remains unsold, still in bondage to Pozzo. Between the two acts, there is a change in the temperament of each character. Lucky became dumb, and Pozzo became blind (Esslin, TA, 28). One may suggest that Pozzo's initial blindness to the world around him is, in the second act, symbolically manifested in physical blindness. Relations among the characters are based on the want to exist within the limits of their needs and understandings of life.
Vladimir and Estragon need someone to break the monotony of waiting. Pozzo needs an audience in front of which to flaunt his wealth. Pozzo furthermore needs Lucky's services, and Lucky needs a master to guide him (Fletcher, SGSB, 40). Although the reader never meets him, the most arcane character is Godot himself. There has been much speculation as to whether or not Godot is representational of God.
Backing up this theory, the title En Attendant Godot seems to contain an allusion to Simone Weil's book Attente de Dieu (Esslin, TA, 28). "Tonight perhaps we shall sleep in his place, in the warmth, dry, our bellies full, on the straw. It is worth waiting for that, is it not?" (Beckett, WG in Esslin, TA, 32). Like god, Godot has the intense power to determine a person's quality of life. But one cannot count on his benevolence, for Godot himself is unpredictable and erratic in bestowing kindness and punishment.
The messenger boy minds the goats and is treated well by Godot. The boy's brother, who minds the sheep, is beaten by Godot (Esslin, TA, 33). "And why doesn't he beat you?" asks Vladimir. "I don't know, Sir" the boy replies (Beckett, WG, 33). Esslin suggests the universality of Waiting for Godot, as a savior; Estragon and Vladimir a representation of Humanity.
"Like the protagonists of Waiting for Godot, all of us are uncertain as to how we got here. Being rational creatures, we think there must be a purpose in our being here; we are all tending to wait for it to become clear to us, but that is an illusion. We might as well make the best of our situation as it is, and learn to live within the limits of our understanding God who is eternally beyond the reach of our imagination and knowledge, occupies in the vast darkness that is ever closed to us and which we can only experience in our awe in the face of something so utterly different from our puny selves" (Esslin, "BTA" in ATBWG, 44) Esslin suggests a stratagem that leads the reader or spectator to assume there is a better solution to the tramps' predicament, which they themselves both consider preferable to waiting for Godot: suicide. Suicide remains their favorite solution; nevertheless, it is unattainable due to their own incompetence and lack of practical tools to achieve it. (TA, 35-36) Beckett excruciatingly portrays the pitiful state of two men, when they have not means to end their own suffering.
At the denouement of Beckett's play, Estragon and Vladimir have just botched their chance at suicide; their hanging rope has snapped. Unfortunately, the rope that was supposed to put an end to them also serves as the belt holding up Estragon's trousers. At one of the most sombre moments in the history of drama in this century, at a time when all home, even of easeful death has evaporated. At that precise point the victim's trousers concertina around his ankles. "Pull on your trousers," Estragon's comrade tells him. But even this is not the whole joke, because Estragon, in fine music-hall style, gets it all wrong.
"You want me to pull off my trousers?" he asks with comic ungainliness. Astonishingly, we are within minutes only of the final curtain, of the unbearable poignancy of that last silence; "Lets go" - but they do not move. On which the play ends. (Fletcher, SGSB, 25-26) Waiting for Godot, through the implementation of an absurd plot, parallelism, characterization, and suicide for the alleviation of suffering, is a definitive example of "Theatre of the Absurd." A pioneer of a bold new theatrical genre, Beckett succeeds in conveying to the reader an overall expression of the hopelessness of a human condition. Works Cited: Bachem, Walter; Fletcher, Berly S.; Fletcher, John; Smith, Barry.
A student's guide to the plays of Samuel Beckett. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1978 Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot. 1945. NY, NY: Grove Press, 1970 Cowell, Raymond.
Twelve Modern Dramatists. Oxford: Pergamon Press Limited, 1967. Esslin, Martin. "Beckett and the 'Theatre of the Absurd'" in Approaches to Teaching Beckett's Waiting for Godot. Ed. June Schlueter and Enoch Brater.
New York, NY: The Modern Language Association of America, 1991. Esslin, Martin. The Theatre of the Absurd. 1961. Woodstock, NY: The Overlook Press, 1973.
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