Worlds of Upheaval demonstrate not only the conflict between two ideas but that of social and political strife and allow readers into a world of multiple perspectives. Worlds of Upheaval offer many diverse perspectives on renewal while simultaneously challenging literary conventions this is demonstrated through texts such as the play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, the film Metropolis by Fritz Lang and the novel The Road by John Hillcoat.
Waiting for Godot illustrates the conflict between spiritual and philosophical ideas that both demonstrate renewal and diverse perspectives to the viewers. Waiting for Godot was part of the theater of the absurd a movement that appeared after the second world war. This movement looked at artist struggling to find meaning through devastation. The absurdist deconstructed plots and characters to try and find meaning to then share the uncertainty on stage. The play offers a simple question to the audience “What should the characters do?” Waiting for Godot is a tragicomedy with the central focus of the play being nothingness. The play follows the two characters, Estragon and Vladimir, who essentially sit around doing nothing and talk about nothing. However, the play also creates conflict between living by religious and spiritual beliefs or living by philosophies such as nihilism or existentialism.
“Vladimir: Let’s wait and see what he says.
Estragon: Good ideas.
Vladimir: Let’s wait till we know exactly how we stand.
Estagon: On the other hand it might be better to strike the iron before it freezes.” This is an example of the two conflicts while Vladimir depends on Godot to inform him of the importance of his own existence versus Estragon who argues they do not have the time to wait and should take action themselves. The metaphor, ‘strike the iron before it freezes.” proposes that humanity doesn’t have time to wait for spiritual considerations that may offer enlightenment.
Waiting for Godot was published in 1952 and seem to have a unique phenomenon during times of social and political crisis. The play brought a modernist existential reflection, “They give birth astride a grave,” says Pozzo. “The light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.” This demonstrates a bleak outlook but it also shows the funny and poetic of the play. This, in turn, revals humanity’s talents for fortitude, amity and keeping going.
Waiting for Godot has a renewal each time the sun sets and then rises again. Time moves in cycles with the same day occurring over and over again. At the end of each day the same boy will come and inform the two main characters that they will have to come again the next day to see Godot. The interruption occurs when night falls the disappointment of Godot not arriving and the day starting once again the same way and still waiting, this is where the plays circular structure occurs. This essential allows for the repetition of conflict between philosophies and spiritual ideas as we see the continuing argument between Vladmir, who wants to wait, and Estragon, who wants to leave,
“Estragon: Let’s go.
Vladmir: We can’t.
Estragon: Why not?
Vladmir: We’re waiting for Godot.”
Beckett deliberately uses an unconventional structure to challenge literary conventions to demonstrate the meaningless of life and the repetitiveness of waiting. Waiting for Godot’s structure moves in a circular motion,
“Vladimir: Well? Shall we go?
Estragon: Yes, let’s go.
Stage directions: They do not move.”
This challenges literary conventions as there is no character development or plot movement but rather moving around in circles which in turn demonstrates the nihilistic theme throughout the play. Beckett demonstrates a nihilistic vision with the avoidance of metaphysical archetypes and connecting structure such as redemption of hope after despir. Throughout the play Beckett displays multiple perspectives surrounding renewal he does this with the use of multiple beliefs and ideologies that are in constant conflict with one another he further pushes these ideas with the use of circular structure and empty spaces.
Metropolis demonstrates a dystopian future in which two worlds, the occult and modern technology, create conflict within the society. The film explores both the self-indulgence and delights of modern cities as well as the inequity and social problems that exist. The creation of the futuristic city can be seen as a symbolism for exploitation, power, corruption and greed. Throughout the film Lang demonstrates a starke separation of upper and lower class. The opening scene in Metropolis the audience is present with a stationary and centered camera shot on a factory this creates a symmetrical image between the workers marching in lines and the building itself. This creates an image illustrating the perfect condition of the factory along with demonstrating the mechanical way the workers move and are presented as if they are part of the machine itself. This is demonstrated by the next shot in which the viewer is presented with different machines performing repetitive motions which is then cut back to the workers moving in similar motion. This may have been used to demonstrate machines controlling men. This juxtaposes with the lavish life of upper class. Just before Marie enters Freder’s house the viewers are met with gardens, women in luxury outfits and men dressed up. This creates a contrast between the upper class who move and act as humans and the lower class who move and act as if they are machinery.
The renewal occurs when the workers revolt which in turn creates a break within society. The scene in which the revolt meets breaking point is when the machine is destroyed. In the scene where the workers are seen as crazed they storm the control room of the machine and overload the machine causing it to blow up and destroy the lower city. Society stops and the revolt rages on towards Freder’s house. The end of the film is concluded when the hands and the heart shake hands and essentially allow society to continue.
Metropolis was published in 1984 having been seen as a contemporary comment on the political situation regarding Germany. The film was made during Germany's Weimar Republic War at the time of publishing the film Metropolis dealt with the anxieties of the time. Lang claimed he was “looking at Germany in the future” when making the film. Through the futuristic aspect of the film Lang alludes to the conflict between the state of contemporary Germany and the future modernisation.
Lang challenged literary conventions of his time by creating a realist film that dealt directly with the political issues going on through Germany. Through his film Lang demonstrated power struggles, poverty and conflict along with the fears of the future and technological advancements. He was able to achieve this through the symbolism and metaphors that were spread across the film. His film continued to challenge literature conventions as the film demonstrated occult themes that linked in with futuristic technology.
The Road demonstrates diverse perspective in renewal be making readers question not only spiritual beliefs but the existence of god. Throughout The Road there is a conflict of spiritual belief that is demonstrated by the main characters own uncertainty. McCarthy’s novel could be seen as an agnostic novel with multiple characters believing in god and others completely rejecting the idea of god, “There is no God and we are his prophets”. The main character of the book, the man, continues to switch between doubting and believing, “He raised his face to the paling day. Are you there? he whispered. Will I see you at last? Have you a neck by which to throttle you? Have you a heart? Damn you eternally have you a soul? Oh God, he whispered. Oh God.” The tone McCarthys uses throughout the novel continues the many occurrences of faith and doubt. However, the central feature of the tone is that of religious belief, “The child was his warrant… If he is not the word of God God never spoke.” Which shows the faith the father that his son is the future of the world and has followed god plan to survive thus far. However, the father also can’t see how there is a god in the apocalyptic world, “God was the savior of our sins, but now the world is a sin along with everyone inside it.” In which the character questions if there is a god and why he would allow the world to fall. The events of the novel itself switches between the two extremes much like the man with the atmosphere and wording being bleak and horrifying as if trying to convince the reader that there is no god. However, a lyrical, hopeful passage will suggest that god may exist. Although the novel remains agnostic, McCarthy may have suggested throughout the novel that the sacred is that of other people.
McCarthy’s novel The road challenges literature conventions as it doesn’t follow most post-apocalyptic literature of its time. McCarthy displays an unfeasibly brutal world that feels real. With use of high imagery McCarthy creates a world where there is no more manufacturing or framing with most of the natural world being destroyed, “Perhaps in the world's destruction it would be possible at last to see how it was made. Oceans, mountains. The ponderous counterspectacle of things ceasing to be. The sweeping waste, hydroptic and coldly secular. The silence.” with only the remains of capitalism left. The Road further diverges from the usual post-apocalyptic worlds by using desolate and colourless surroundings, “Charred and limbless trunks of trees… sagging hand of blind wire strung got blackened light poles. McCarthy further diverges by creating a real life world by giving the reader the trivial tasks of daily life as the father and son travel.
McCarthy further challenges literature conventions by creating a dislocation between the reader and the son. While The Road is modeled after Earth, there are parts throughout the novel which create both a familiar feeling in the reader and dislocation. “He sat and ran his hand around in the works of the gutted machines and in the second one it closed over a cold metal cylinder. He withdrew his hand slowly and sat looking at a Coca Cola.
What is it, Papa?
It’s a treat. For you.” This further pushes the dislocation as the 10 year old has never had Coke a beverage that is common for most children to have tried along with the Coke representing the fall of capitalism. The Road demonstrates the conflict in spiritual beliefs creating diverse perspectives on renewal McCarthy does this by challenging literature conventions and creating a realistic bleak and grim world.
Worlds of upheaval continue to represent political and social conflict throughout history. Through texts such as Waiting for Godot, The Road and Metropolis responders are able to see how the author creates multiple perspectives to demonstrate renewal and how many ideas can conflict and create either hope or despair.