Day: August 14, 2012

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

An attempt to review a play – Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

I do not know what to make out of this, and yet, my goal to write something for every book that I read that would at least have one sensible sentence forces me to revisit this play. It’s the first play that I ever read, and I already have an existing half-baked report on my initial reading of this. After reading the post and skimming the book/pamphlet, I am still unsure how to make sense of it.

So what are the possible causes? 1.) I’m not in the mood to think and write; 2.) I didn’t get what this play was trying to say; 3.) The play is too tough for my puny mind to understand, 4.) The play is simply open to a lot of interpretations. The last item, I lifted from my preliminary gleaning, and I am sticking with it.

Vladimir and Estragon are two tramps who are, apparently, waiting for Godot. Who this Godot is, we never find out because he never arrives. Perhaps he will on the third act, but sorry folks, this tragicomedy is only composed of two. Besides, Godot is of the least importance here. We don’t mind him; in fact, we forget about him. What’s of paramount importance is what goes on while Vladimir and Estragon are waiting.

Vladimir: Let us not waste our time in idle discourse! (Pause. Vehemently.) Let us do something, while we have the chance! It is not every day that we are needed. Not indeed that we personally 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 lest reflexion, or else he slinks away into the depths of the thickets. But that is no the question. What are we doing here, that is 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–

Vladimir and Estragon, as you may have already noticed, are the main characters in the play. Their whole waiting happens for two days. The events of the first and second days are almost similar. Even the time and place do not change. I see this as a depiction of the mundaneness of life and of the eternal recurrence of things. How does one deal with those? Can one escape from them?

The two kill time by discussing random and foolish stuff. They jump from one topic to another, like what vegetable color one prefers, the problematic boots that one of them is wearing, and why they are there. So you see, they even tend to forget why they are near a tree, waiting, waiting. For Godot.

Their conversations show us what kind of relationship the two have. These are very entertaining, and my mind’s eye couldn’t help imagining how the actions and dialogues would appear onstage. The two are forever saying their goodbyes, then coming back to each other’s arms a few minutes after. At some point, there seems to be something like bromance going on. Regardless, they are dependent to each other, hence, their inseparability. They have to remind each other of what to do.

3 star - liked itWhat are we doing, we are waiting for Godot, we have nothing else to do, that’s why we are waiting for him. This futile paraphrasing makes me think that the two characters’ waiting is Life and that Godot is a symbol for a lot of things. This depends on what the reader’s beliefs are. Godot may be God, Death, The End, or Some Force such as Knowledge, Values, et al. Based from my first reading, I figured that Godot must be Death.

We while away our time on earth by filling in the gaps of this journey between the current pit stop and the destination. We do so by working, reading, blogging, or just anything to fulfill our wants and needs, anything to have us entertained, anything that would allow us to embrace just now and temporarily forget that we are a long way ahead from finishing. Maybe we should not wait for whoever your Godot is, no? When your Godot finally meets you, I bet it would hardly matter.

Going back to the play, if Godot did not arrive, at least two other characters did, which I have completely disregarded until now. This only makes the play hard to pin down with one theme. And isn’t it ironic, that what seems to be so absurd on the surface could be so baffling, so full of philosophical musings, so resonant with existentialist stuff?