Themes in Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot

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Themes in Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’.

Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ is a typical example of what is referred to in literary terms as ‘Absurd Theatre’, a phrase referring to 20th century works that depict the absurdity of modern human creation, often with implicit reference to humanity’s loss or lack of religious, philosophical or cultural roots. Such works depict the individual as essentially isolated and alone, even when surrounded by other people and things. Many modern comic dramatists however are concerned to present credible characters. Recognizing the social order is an illusion and believing that the world is absurd, they can as in the theatre of the absurd present bizarre characters in bizarre situations. In works of Beckett for example comic laughter is replaced by a grimmer sort of humor including farce and sick jokes. Samuel Beckett has written in genres including fiction, poetry and criticism and is considered the pioneer of the absurdist tradition. Some of the themes that occur and ‘reoccur’ in Beckett’s works are, the search of self, the absurdity of man in the world, the dedication to artistic failure, the erosive force of time, the bankruptcy of the western cultural tradition, the encroachment of nothingness on being, the treacherous slippage of language, the wavering eye of hovering object etc. Waiting for Godot, considered universally a masterpiece and a contemporary classic was written in 1948, the period of high modernism. Translated into over a dozen languages, it has been performed in theatres, both small and large, by amateurs and professionals, on radio and on television. The plot of Beckett’s play is simple to relate. Two tramps are waiting by a sickly looking tree for the arrival of a certain ‘Godot’. While waiting they indulge in a plethora of activities, they fight, make up, eat a carrot and gnaw on some bones. Two other characters appear, a master and a slave, who perform a...
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