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The Futility Of Our Actions In Seeking Purpose Of Life In Waiting For Godot

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The existential play Waiting for Godot, explores themes of absurdity, in particular, the absurdity of life, and furthermore how our actions to ascribe meaning to life is futile. Beckett displays the absurdity through irony and characterization of the characters. The play begins with no aforementioned context, with two tramps like character, Vladimir and Estragon. During the play, they are perpetually stuck living their days waiting by a dirt road for a man named Godot, while waiting they encounter two men, Pozzo and Lucky, one being a slave master and the other a slave respectively. The nonsensical actions and repetition of the characters encounters are used by Beckett to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of their actions to give meaning to their life.

Beckett wonderfully utilizes irony to depict the farce nature of life, through the juxtaposition in the characters actions with the setting of a dirt road. Estragon and Vladimir spend the whole play on the side of a dirt road waiting for Godot, whom they are not sure if they’ve met, or if they’re waiting for him at the right place, or if it is the right day, they’re not even sure if Godot is going to appear at all. As mentioned before they almost seem stuck in this monotonous cyclic life of waiting, Vladimir and Estragon fill their time with mundane activities and insignificant conversations, while never leaving or moving down the road. The road signifies movement, a set path, and progress, which completely contradict their meaningless actions. Their action of ‘waiting’ is virtually their only meaning and thing for them to do in their life, despite Estragon’s measly efforts to leave and move along with life, Vladimir insists on waiting. As we delve further in the play we learn that Vladimir’s incentive on waiting for Godot is like a prayer or vague supplication. “What exactly did we ask him for?… nothing very definite. A kind of prayer. Precisely. A vague supplication.”(Beckett 14) They paint Godot as someone who will give them meaning or an answer when in reality they’re not even sure that Godot exists.

Beckett’s keen use of naming Lucky should allude to him having some sort of luck, which we find to be quite the contrary at first glance, as he is a slave. He is abused physically and verbally by his owner, he is forced to work to the point of exhaustion, and is denied any chance to act on his own free will. However, when comparing him to the other characters, we can see Beckett’s brilliance in naming him Lucky. Considering that he is the luckiest character in the play, is a true testament to show how dreadful everyone else’s life is when a slaves role is desirable. Although Lucky does not have physical luck on his side, which can be seen through his physicalities like his hunchback, and sores, he is lucky due to the way he looks at life especially compared to Vladimir and Estragon. Lucky is fully aware of enslavement and his owner, which gives him a sense of purpose, and freedom since he has no expectations of life getting better, and in turn acknowledges that everything we do is futile in the end as we will all pass away. This contrasts with Vladimir and Estragon as they don’t have an absolute like Lucky, they’re enslaved to this idea of Godot, whom they themselves don’t know if he is real.

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Additionally Lucky presents his viewpoint further through his confusing speech in act 1. In essence, his wordy speech pertains to the human condition, and how we try seeking for answers and meaning to life in different ways. He starts off with addressing those who find meaning in a higher being such as a deity or god. He indicates that believing in such a being and having faith is useless, through describing these beings as apathetic which alludes to them being absent and uninterested. Thus by calling a being apathetic, he says that these gods are indifferent to the issues humans face. Lucky also mentions these beings as “divine athambia and divine aphasia” as a result, by calling them athambic he is alluding to the fact that they have no need for humans since they have great self-assurance. He also speaks upon the nature of communication between these beings, by calling them aphasic, he is mentioning that these beings cannot communicate with us. Thus through questioning the notion of higher beings, he brings to light the faults in believing in a divine being and sparks the question in whether we want to find meaning and purpose from such a disconnected being.

Lucky proceeds to speak upon our human response to the condition of life, and how humans engage in various activities such as sport to improve themselves. He points out that this goal of self-improvement proves to be in vain, as he criticizes academics as “labours left unfinished.” and that these efforts are a matter of “alimentation and defecation.” Thus, he is calling upon the faults of our academic efforts, which is known to be the foundation of progress, as a fruitless exercise. Lastly, after calling upon all the uncertainties of life, he leads us to the ultimate certainty, death. The end/last part of his speech concludes with imagery of apocalyptic earth, where nature runs its course and darkness would prevail, “the earth in the great cold the great dark… the earthly abode of stones in the great cold…I resume the skull fading fading.” Beckett’s arouses imagery of stones and skulls to delivery the true bleak picture of life as we are all born to die. In the end, Lucky’s speech turns into incoherent ramblings, which suggests that the breakdown of his language and his inability to communicate represents the inability to give meaning and structure to life.

The play ends in the same fashion as it began, Vladimir and Estragon waiting by the side of the road, never having left the spot. Beckett’s use of concluding the play in this similar fashion simulates the monotonous cycle of life, and it’s repetitiveness. In the end, the two tramps Vladimir and Estragon are left without having met Godot, yet we know that they continue to wait. Will Godot ever appear? No one has an answer, similar to Lucky reiterating “for reasons unknown” in his speech, the tramps continue to wait, for reasons unknown, this represents our human condition and the uncertainty of life. We all wonder and seek purpose while living, and we do this through filling our time with activities that we feel are productive, but through the view of this play, we can see that in everything we do, we will eventually pass away, thus concluding our actions as futile and meaningless.

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The Futility Of Our Actions In Seeking Purpose Of Life In Waiting For Godot. (2021, August 26). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 2, 2022, from
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