Consider 'Waiting for Godot' as an Absurd Play

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The most exciting theatre of the mid-20th century is that of the absurdist, particularly Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco and Jean Genet. They dazzle us, first with a fine control of craft, with the precisely appropriate setting, stage dynamics, and language. Beckett's near-empty landscapes, his reduction of physical movement to a minimum, his sparse, austere and wonderful poetry - all these qualities significantly and largely contributed to the development of the absurdist theatre. The playwrights of this school give us a composite portrait of the contemporary man for whom God is either dead or dying, of the man who sees himself in that strange twilight land between life and death. The characters that they create are in the image of contemporary man who, first, reduced to the faintest hopes, asks the question of what he con do, and then resigns himself to the seeming inevitability of cosmic nothingness. The achievement of the absurdist's school is immense; no other 20th century 'school 'of playwrights has been more theatrically and philosophically effective; none has vividly and deeply represented its age-an age conscious, perhaps above alleles, of life's absurdity.

Absurd literature and drama have gown out of a sense of despair and futility. Some novelists and dramatists have watched life with grave concern and have found that human condition has no color and beauty about it. It is essentially and irredeemably absurd. Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus offers the most extended and precise definition of the word 'absurd'. Camus finds man shifting from nothingness to nothingness -

"In a universe that is suddenly deprived of illusion and of light, man feels stranger. He is an irremediable exile………..This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, truly constitutes the feeling of Absurdity."

R. Mueller and J. Jacobson in their "The Absurd Quest" point out that "Man's first step into consciousness of the absurd is the realization that, he who has taken life for granted and enjoyed some of its pleasures, will die." In the contemporary world, with the growing sense of despondency and futility, man has become aware of time's destructiveness and nature's indifferences.

To come to believe that time is his destroyer, that the natural world observes him not, and that he is brother to machine - such is the way by which man arrives at a knowledge of the absurdity of this world, an absurdity born of the juxtaposition of all that he would wish life to be with the way that life actually seems to be. Man yearns to defy time, to feel at home in the world, to rest confident of his humanity; but he comes to know his mortality, his loneliness, his machinelike rigidity. The absurd is, Camus writes, "that divorce between the mind that desires and the world that disappoints." The playwrights of the absurd present this disparity between the life man hopes for and the life he endures.

Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot' best exemplifies "that divorce between the mind that desires and the world that disappoints." From their bleak and joyless world Vladimir and Estragon seek relief. They recall that according to one of the Gospels, one of the two thieves who flanked Jesus on the cross was saved. In Godot's promised arrival they place their hope for salvation. The first intruder upon their solitary and anxious waiting is the monstrous Pozzo, whom they initially mistake for Godot, but who, with his grotesque servant, Lucky, is the epitome of all that is vicious and degrading. Throughout the play, the near desperate waiting continues, in spite of all the frustrations and disappointments, which the world heaps upon the protagonists. Despite their impatience with, and their offensiveness to, each other, they remain together, finding mutual solace in their conversation and companionship. They are the perfect prototypes of Beckett's world, together comprising the Everyman sunk in the misery of this universe and, though seemingly...
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