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Absurdist Theatre Waiting for Godot

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Introduction

Absurdist Theatre asks its viewer to 'draw his own conclusions, make his own errors' (Esslin, 1961, p. 20). I would argue that the intention of Waiting for Godot is to force the reader to draw their own conclusions without providing a climax and conclusion similar to what we would expect from traditional theatre. Theatre of the Absurd serves to convey an author's interpretation of the human situation. It does not show man in a specific historical or social context, it is not meant to communicate general views of our existence. An absurd character is remote in the world created. Absurd Theatre discards what we view as a traditional plot and characters to assail its reader with an unnerving encounter. Characters engage in apparently pointless dialogue thus the reader is given an impression of what it would be like to live in a world that is not coherent and does not "make sense". This is demonstrated by two men waiting around, repeating events, clowning and joking as they pass the time waiting through one day and then another. Although Waiting for Godot could be depicted as experientialist in its characterisations, the play is first and foremost about anticipation and hope. The play revolves around the characters and their pitiful wait for hope, e.g. Godot, to arrive. I would argue that Waiting for Godot is a play in which nothing happens yet manages to captivate the reader. ...read more.

Middle

VLADIMIR: Consult his family. ESTRAGON: His friends. VLADIMIR: His agents. ESTRAGON: His correspondents. VLADIMIR: His books. ESTRAGON: His bank account. VLADIMIR: Before taking a decision. This has homoerotic subtextual implications in the sense that they appear to be soul mates. It is never admitted in the text as to whether they are in a homosexual relationship, but the reader is left speculating. The literal text of Waiting for Godot invites you to attempt to make meaning, however at the same time appears to resist meaning. In Lucky's speech, words are repeated and names are paired. Using the contextual knowledge of works such as Shakespeare, the reader will latch onto this repetition, as traditionally repetition of a phrase or words would be used to convey a meaning. "In spite of the tennis" (Beckett, 2006, p. 37) could lead you to infer that it means "back and forth". But does it actually have a literal meaning, or is it Beckett making a commentary on the absurdity of theatre and life? One interpretation of the play could be that is that character of Lucky is named so, due to the fact that contextually in terms of the play, he is in fact a lucky character. When you take into account that most of the play is spent trying to pass the time, Lucky is lucky because ultimately as a slave, his actions are determined by the decisions of Pozzo whom he obeys with 'dog-like devotion' (Mercier, 1990, p. ...read more.

Conclusion

I believe it is significant in the fact it invites us to make sense of it but does not provide a definite supposition. I do not believe the places themselves are important, even though we as readers will try our best to convince ourselves that they are. However there are many instances in the speech that do contradict this idea. Lucky resumes 'the skull to shrink and waste' could this be a commentary on the frailty of mankind in a turbulent Twentieth Century perhaps? Lucky's final word is 'unfinished' referring both to the unfinished extended stream of consciousness as well as conceivably the contracting frailty of mankind. Waiting for Godot forces the reader to make his or her own deductions, as the situation of the play remains inert. In traditional theatre, Point A ends up in Point B, we ask ourselves what will happen next and what will the conclusion be. In Waiting for Godot we are forced to ask ourselves what it is that we want from the text. Waiting for Godot embodies theatre in its absurdist form, the plot is that of a cyclic nature with Act II a reprise of Act II albeit subtly different. By the end of the play, Vladimir and Estragon have spent the duration of the play waiting. The last line from Estragon 'Yes, let's go' is followed by the stage direction 'They do not move' which simply serves to demonstrate their total incapability to take control of their life, as by the end they have achieved nothing. ...read more.

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