Topical and Universal Element in Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot".

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In spite of the fact that "Waiting for Godot" has no spectacle, no star-part, no sex, no love or romance, no traditional story, no melodrama and action of the traditional drama, no emotions and not even a woman character, it has proved itself to be a world-theatre and a gripping and popular play and it has occupied the minds of its readers and play-goers. Though the nightmarish post-war world is the immediate cause (background) for the outcome of this great masterpiece, Beckett, with all his economy and artistic brilliance, dexterously and superbly blends the topical and universal elements in it. Though Waiting for Godot is a post-modern production or, to be more precise, post-war European civilization, Beckett's handling of universal theme, waiting or endless expectation and human predicament, has turned the play into one which transcends time and place. In the play the playwright uses the universal theme of waiting and human suffering to dramatize the inner anguish and predicament of the post-war humanity.

20th century is an era of nightmares. The two Great Wars, especially the Second World War, through its massive, wholesale, brutal and diabolical destruction of mankind gave a rude and terrible shock to the civilization. The outbreak of such an sense-perplexing strife and antagonism shakes the very foundation of civilization; the impact is a heavy and irresistible one - human dream and aspirations are terribly shattered, traditional values no more appeal to human heart, in short, in the aftermath of the war life becomes purposeless and absolutely pointless; pessimism and despondency dominated the-then European world. Beckett's Waiting for Godot is a poignant expression of the pessimism and despair of his contemporary period. In this play, Beckett describes a mood, a tone towards life, where man's existence is s dilemma of purposeless, meaningless and pointless activity. Beckett does not present the grim picture of humanity at odds with the alien universe as a tragic vision, rather he presents a horrible picture of man torn out of life with an subtle admixture of comedy. thus in Waiting for Godot Vladimir and Estragon, the two tramps, lead an absurd life and pointlessly wait for a stranger called Godot, with whom, they believe they have an appointment, and who fails them everyday. The way the two tramps pass time is indicative of the boredom and triviality of human activities, the lack of significance of life, and the constant suffering, which existence is. The very style of their idling away time brings home the hollowness and insincerity of most social intercourse in post-modern world. Vladimir and Estragon question each other, contradict each other, abuse each other, and become reconciled to each other without any serious meaning of intention. The sense of the utter lack of meaning drives Vladimir and Estragon to thoughts of suicide, but the world of play is one in which no significant action is permitted; therefore, even suicide is not within their reach. T. S. Eliot in "Sweeney Agonistes" has drawn a grim picture of this absurd life:

"Birth and copulation and death,

That's all, that's all, that's all, that's all,

Birth and copulation and death."

The life that is here presented is -

It is a tale,

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

[Macbeth: Shakespeare]

The post-war generation throughout Europe and America experienced the terrible shock of disillusionment. The sublime conception of man as Renaissance figure has turned upside down. The terms like heroism and greatness have become back-dated and invalid in modern world; the great man has dwindled into clownish one. This is why in Beckett's play or novel there is no scope for a hero, strutting and fretting his hour upon the stage, exuding glory, glamour and charisma. Instead of hero there is an anti-hero who is completely alienated and estranged from society and other fellow creatures. No Oedipus or Achilles, no...
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