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Crucial Themes in ‘Waiting for Godot’

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In the World War II, People lost their almost everything and the there is a gloomy life in thisperiod. Some play writers transferred this into literature by writing theatre, novel and poem. After all lived things, The Theatre of the Absurd showed up. The Theatre of the Absurd (French:théâtre de l’absurde[teɑtʁ(ə) də lapsyʁd]) is a post– World War II designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1950s, as well as one for the style of theatre which has evolved from their work. Their work focused largely on the idea of existentialism and expressed what happens when human existence has no meaning or purpose and therefore all communication breaks down. The structure was in a round shape and the finishing point was the same as the starting point. Logical construction and argument give way to irrational and illogical speech and to its ultimate conclusion, silence.

There are many representer of absurd theatre like Albert Camus (The Myth of Sisyphus ,1942 ) , Samuel Beckett (Waiting for Godot, 1952), Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, Arthur Adamov, Harold Pinter. Samuel Barclay Beckett (13 April 1906 – 22 December 1989) was an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator. A resident of Paris for most of his adult life, he wrote in both French and English. Beckett’s work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human existence, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humor, and became increasingly minimalist in his later career. He is considered one of the last modernist writers, and one of the key figures in what Martin Esslin called the ‘Theatre of the Absurd.’ Beckett was awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature ‘for his writing, which in new forms for the novel and drama in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation.’ He was elected Saoi of Aosdána in 1984. His the most popular work is ‘’Waiting for Godot’’. Waiting for Godot is a kind of ‘’The theatre of Absurd’’ .

Also the theatre has no introduction-body-conclusion like other theatres. It turns continuously where it started so it doesn’t like and undestand by viewers. However, Samuel Beckett dicussed ‘’extentialism’’ in this work. What is existentialism? Existentialism is a tradition of philosophical enquiry which takes as its starting point the experience of the human subject not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual. It is associated mainly with certain 19th- and 20th-century European philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief in that beginning of philosophical thinking. It is exposed to a lot of criticisms by critics and playwriters. It was written after World War I , so we can see its effects on this work. People are hopeless about future and they starts to wait a hope saving them. Waiting for Godot has no certain place or time and it consists of two men , Viladimir and Estragon. In the Act I Vladimir and Estragon wait a man who never comes , Godot. They prefer to wait instead of act and they never do anything while they are waiting Godot. They never change their lives and this repetition is endless cycle of their lives.

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Characters don’t move in any meaningful way and they claim this is because they have no uncertain consequences. The portrait of daily life in Waiting for Godot is depressive and reiterated. The solution seems like to act but the characters don’t do this because they wait Godot to save them. People generally wait another person to save them or they accuse another person or an object when they don’t want to take responsibility. We can see these in Waiting for Godot. Viladimir says ‘’ There is man all over for you , blaming on his boots the faults of his feet.’’ The central action of the play : waiting. They have nothing to do while they are waiting, they only sit, talk or stare. These things a test of their ability to endure. Their everday repeat in the same place and time lost its meaning in their life because they don’t know what they did yesterday or they don’t know what time is. Also they have no idea what will happen in the future. The other thing has no certanity is religion. Characters in the theatre try to understand religon but they are left in the dark. Religion is tied to uncertanity because there is no way to reason crisply about religion. But in Act I, Pozzo submit himself ‘’Fatalism’’. He says ‘’ Remark that I might just as well have in his shıes and he in mine. If chance had not willed otherwise. To each one his due.’’What is ‘’Fatalism’’? . Though the word “fatalism” is commonly used to refer to an attitude of resignation in the face of some future event or events which are thought to be inevitable, philosophers usually use the word to refer to the view that we are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do. Also in the theatre, we can see friendship between Vladimir and Estragon. Friendship is the another central of the play.

They are fundamentally isolated from each other. Reletionship between of them is about a fear of loneliness and an essential inability to connect. In the theatre stage, there is only a tree. Tree symbolises ‘’ Jesus’s cross’’. Jesus was crucified on a cross, but sometimes that cross can be referred as a tree. Characters , Vladimir and Estragon, want to hang on to this tree themselves to escape from everything because life is meaningless. When you kill yourself, you escape all responsibilities of life. Dead is the perfect escape. In the work, there are 5 characters , Vladimir, Estragon, Pozzo, Lucky and a child. Vladimir is one of the two characters of the play. Estragon calls him Didi, but child calls him Mr. Albert. He wears a derby hat but it disturbs during the play.

However, it symbolises existentialism anxiety in his head. He is a reasonable, intellectual and sentimantal person. He tries to remember the past to understand him the meaning of existing. Estragon is the other main charater in the play. Vladimir calls him Gogo. He seems weak and helpless so he is destitute to Vladimir. He has a poor memory , every time he don’t remember what happened yesterday or who met they. He evokes sentimental aspects of people. He never thinks about human values and the problem of existing. Vladimir reminds him everthing. He wears a boat but it continuously disturbs him and he eates carrot. Like Vladimir’s deby hat , Estragon’s boat represents existentialism anxiety with pyhsical necessities. Estragon only thinks his feet or hunger.

Vladimir and Estragon don’t says their name’s because neither their existing nor their name is important. Also they don’t break up from each other because they know that they don’t achieve anything seperate from each other. Vladimir and Estragon represents people’s life because people remain between their physical necessities and thoughts. Pozzo represents ‘’power’’. He has a slave , Lucky, and he badly behaves him and never cares him. Lucky represents the intellectual and physical effort. Pozzo and Lucky go end of the Act I without knowing where they are going. In the Act II, Pozzo and Lucky come back as blind and mute. After this, Pozzo needs Lucky. This refers the downfall of society. The last characcter of the work is child. It represents the purity because he does what is said him.


  1. Existentialism –
  2. Fatalism –

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Crucial Themes in ‘Waiting for Godot’. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 24, 2023, from
“Crucial Themes in ‘Waiting for Godot’.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
Crucial Themes in ‘Waiting for Godot’. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2023].
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