Friday, November 18, 2011

Waiting For GodotDrama and Theatre Arts

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A Drama and Theatre Arts


Identify the themes and structure/form of Samuel Becketts Waiting for Godot and discuss how these confirm the play belongs to the Theatre of the Absurd genre.

Samuel Becketts Waiting for Godot follows various abstract themes such as religion, human behaviour and anxious loneliness.

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Waiting for Godot is described as ‘a dramatic action in which events, characters and settings represent abstract or spiritual meanings. This is clearly demonstrated in the ‘bizarre, increasingly mystifying conversations’ between Pozzo and Lucky and of course Vladimir and Estragon. For example a quotation from Pozzo;

“The second is never so sweet… as the first I mean, but its sweet just the same…” and “He can no longer endure my presence. I am perhaps not particularly human, but who cares?”.

Such words and phrases suggest a very bizarre and abstract idea to the play.

Also, in relation to the spiritual meanings in the play. Even for e French audience, the name Godot will be perceived to have God in it. The cyclnical plot � on successive days two men wait for and are denied on encounter with a shadowy figure of authority � is very close to fable.

Also towards the beginning of the play Vladimir asks Estragon ‘Have you ever read the Bible?’ and further goes on to lecture Estragon on the mysteries of salvation and damnation as they are exemplified in the most resonant of all such stories.

The dialogue has several conspicuous allusions to events in the life of Christ as recounted in the New Testament.

Beckett strove to create a play that could avoid definition, to give an artistic expression to ‘the irrational state of unknowingness wherein we exist, this mental weightlessness which is beyond reason’.

Therefore, it would be advantageous to begin talking about the play not as a structure of ideas, but as the dramatization of what it is like and what it means to exist in a state of radical unknowingness.

Throughout the play Vladimir and Estragons conversation and movement express a dreamlike environment and an interpretation of feeling not logic which equals an ‘erosion of certainty’. They do not retain a clear mental history and are constantly struggling to prove their existence. Each Act begins with them at the same place, same time, next day. It is always early evening and then falls to nightime, which demonstrates a sense of repetition connoting the ‘circle of life’, unknowingness and doubts existence and this clearly shows an absurd idea to the play.

Albert Schweitzer is defined as a French theologian, organist and missionary surgeon. He founded a hospital in 11 where he afterwards remained, except for brief intervals spent giving recitals of organ music, mainly Bach, to raise funds for his medical work. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 15.

The boy in Waiting for Godot refers to Vladimir as ‘Albert’. The boy could do this because both Albert Schweitzer and Vladimir appear to be well educated and thoughtful. But this is quite an abstract comparison to be made by he boy. This idea almost mirrors the play.

The language between Vladimir and Estragon throughout the play consists of pointless and fragmented utterances and this decreases as the play moves on but also as the play moves on there is an increase in their pointless and fragmented existence.

Beckett claims that he is ‘not interested in any system. I cant see any trace of system anywhere’.

‘Waiting for Godot’ resists not only systems but evokes abstract ideas aswell. ‘If I could have expressed the subject of my work in philosophical terms, I would not have any reason to write it’ Becketts attitude towards philosophical writing relates to his defiance of ‘the norm’ and indicates that ‘Waiting for Godot’ belongs to the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ genre.

This is not to deny the importance of Beckett’s ideas in Waiting for Godot, but rather to confirm Hugh Kennes observations that ‘A Beckett play contains ideas but that no idea contains the play’.

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