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Existentialism in Waiting for Godot

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Existentialism in Waiting for Godot

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Existentialism is a philosophy that repudiates the idea of religion or any ‘supreme’ being bringing meaning to life, and advocates the idea that individuals are instrumental in finding a purpose to life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility. Hence in Samuel Becket’s existentialist play Waiting For Godot, he puts forth an idea that all of humanity is wasting their lives in inaction- waiting for the salvation of a deity, when that divine being may or may not even exist. As inferred from the phrase "existence precedes essence", there is no pre-existent spirituality or soul; no god, Christian or otherwise; no cosmic compassion for human life; no salvation in heaven and damnation in hell; neither preset destiny nor inevitable fate; and nor is there the transcendence of our worldly existence. Everyone must bear the responsibility for their own existence, since it is not predetermined or shaped by any external force; a subsequent anxiety is one of the aspects of human nature. Nevertheless, the burdens of anxiety and responsibility are often too heavy to bear, and we often seek to shift them on certain individuals, institutions, religions, or even on a ‘Godot’. Existentialism manifests itself in Waiting for Godot through its motifs of despair, absurdity, alienation, and boredom. One of the most prevalent themes is that of loneliness as a consequence of godlessness. In a blank futile universe devoid of purpose, design or care – represented by the featureless Beckettian landscape, human beings are alone, and condemned to be free. Afraid of this isolation Estragon and Vladimir cling together despite their quarrels, and Pozzo and Lucky do not untie themselves. This futility leads to another characteristic of existentialism: despair. Since there is no preset will, Existentialism preaches the individual freedom of choice. Estragon and Vladimir have made the choice of waiting, without any instruction as Vladimir says that Godot "didn't say for sure he'd come"....