Waiting for Godot; Samuel Beckett

Literatura universal contemporánea del siglo XX. Teatro francés de posguerra. Absurdo. Premio Nobel # Argument. Characters

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WAITING FOR GODOT

1. Genre

We think that this play is a psichological and philosophical play, because it is about two men who are waiting a God. So, in our opinion, this play in spite of being an absurd stage, is about religion.

We think that this is a play of ideas, we know what is happenning when we see it on the stage, not before. The author explains something using the logic.

  • Narrator and narrative

  • As this is a play, we couldn´t find a common narrator here: what we find is the characters speaking, using the dialogue. But, in some way, we can consider the explanations of the author about the movements of the actors and the decoration as a kind of narrator, which, in that case, would be used in 3rd person.

    If we consider this as a narrator, it will be objetive, because we can understand the play in the manner we want, we can interpretate the story in many ways: what this narrator does is help us with the understanding of the story

    We belive that the author´s understanding of life limits the story: the two main characters are always thinking on Godot to come, on the death to come. In our opinion, the author want the readers to apreciate life.

    As we have said before, the narrator that appears in the play help us to imagine the stage, how the characters look like, their clothes...It sites us on the play.

  • Theme

  • As we have said before, the main theme in this play is religion, the “faith in God”.

    ESTRAGON:Let´s go.

    VLADIMIR:We can´t.

    ESTRAGON:Why not?

    VLADIMIR:We are waiting for Godot.

    They are all day waiting for hin because they belive he is going to rescue them.

    Another minor theme that we can find:

    -The illness of the two protagonists, that in our opinion is alzheimer, which makes them , specially to Estragon, not to remember what had happenned the day before.

  • Style

  • All the events in this play are narrated chronologically. There are no flash-backs, the story is lineal, because an act carries another act, as we can see at the begining of evefy one of them:

    “Next day. Same time. Same place”

    When the two main characters speak is important to know that both say and repeat the same things that other has already said:

    ESTRAGON:What I am to say?

    VLADIMIR:Say, I am happy.

    ESTRAGON:I am happy.

    VLADIMIR:So I am.

    ESTRAGON:So I am.

    VLADIMIR:We are happy.

    ESTRAGON:We are happy.

    (..............Continues................)

    The setting is not very important: we know that Estragon and Vladimir are waiting for godot, but we don´t know where.

    Neither do we find cultural references, except to a religious themes.

  • Unity

  • The story goes on, because the two characters have to wait for Godot, and all the events form a unity. One act is followed by another act, and they are in the same place, at the same time, waiting for Godot, as at the beginning.

    The climax in this play is the waiting: this is the base of all the acts of the main characters- the characters want to go, but they cannot, they have to wait.

    In our opinion, there is no developement, because the same things happen one time and other: they want to go, but they can´t; they want to commite succide, but they can´t; all they can do is wait Godot to come. So, as we have said, what centers the story is the waiting for Godot.

    In our opinion, the ending is not satisfying, because the play ends as it begins: There is an open end and you want belive what you want. This is one of the reasons because we haven´t understand this play very well. Everything is the same: the same place, the same things, the same speech....So the characters don´t develop.

  • Characters and characterization

  • Characters are very important in this play, because the play is about themselves. Here we have four different characters:

    MAIN CHARACTERS

    -Vladimir is an old man, who has a little bit of memory, and he is like Estragon´s father: he is always reminding him what they are doing, what he has said,...

    -Estragon is an old man too, and he has lost his memory: he can´t remember what has happened one hour ago.

    This two characters haven´t got a normal life, their life is without sense.They pass all the time waiting for Godot, who is a person they don´t know. While they are waiting, to have a good time, they want to be hanged.

    SECONDARY CHARACTERS

    -Pozzo, who is a man that treats his servant with contemp. According to the play, he is the owner of some fields.

    -Lucky, Who is an old man who works for Pozzo, is a servant that works as a beast in order to not be sold by his servant.

    -The boy, who has been sent by Godot to advise Vladimir and Estragon to wait for the next day he to come.

    We think that the dominant passion of the characters is the bordom of living in a life without sense. We can see the absurd thigs they do in order to enjoy their waiting in this cotation:

    VLADIMIR:Let´s hang ourselves tomorrow (PAUSE) unless Godot comes.

    ESTRAGON:And if he comes?

    VLADIMIR:We´ll be saved.

    As we can see, the characters are ridiculous, in spite of Beckett´s descripton of them in a moral point of view. This is the result of the absurd theatre that he uses.

    The author is not interested in showing us a message, in our opinion he is only showing us the human weakness. This is seems throuh the language that Beckett uses where the comunication is nearly unexist.

    We can see the characters throug the language they use because during the play we haven´t got any action.

    We hardly know the characters along the story because they are characters without psychollogy and it seems that they don´t have identity.

  • What dominates the play

  • What dominates the playare characters, as we have said, because the action doesn´t appear in anyone of the scenes: what has importance here are the characters.

  • Use of language

  • As this is a play, the most important thing is the dialogue, which help us to know what the characters are doing, thinking, what actions would beand, in this way, we get more involved in the play.

    All the characters use the same kind of language in the play: it´s a colloquial language and also idealistic, as we have found in those all religious references.

    We belive that this is a narrative-descriptional play because the author uses the narrative althouth there is a lot of dialogue and the descriptions to place us, to indicate what are the characterts appearance.

    9.Grammar

    Sentences in the play are usually short, simple. Beckett has tried the characters to speak in this way to emphasize their characteristics: Estragon and Vladimir, the main charactersspeak in this way because, in our opinion, they are old and they are ill. Here we have an extract of the play where we can see their way of speak:

    VLADIMIR:Well? What do we do?

    ESTRAGON:Don´t let´s do anything. It´s safer.

    VLADIMIR:Let´s wait and see what he says.

    ESTRAGON:Who?

    VLADIMIR:Godot.

    ESTRAGON:Good idea.

    A very curious thing in this play is the use of so many questions. We belive that it may be relacionated with the illness of the main characters, in particular to Estragon, who is always asking the same thing:

    ESTRAGON:Let´s go far away from here.

    VLADIMIR:We can´t.

    ESTRAGON: Why not?

    VLADIMIR:We are waiting for.

    ESTRAGON:Who?

    VLADIMIR:Godot.

    ESTRAGON:Ah!

    In this play, the knowledge of grammar is not very useful, because this is more than a typical play, it is a play that opens new horizonts to the theatre.

    10. Use of words

    This is a play charged of religious connotations, as we are going to see.

    First of all, we find the name GODOT, which in our opinion makes reference to GOD. So what the charactersa are waiting along all the play is death to come, they are waiting God to come to them.

    In second place, we find a reference to the Bible, to one of the most famous passages iside of it: the death of Christ in the cross and the two burglars at his sides.

    Last but not least, we find a reference made by Pozzo: “Listen, PAN sleeps.”

    This name, Pan, has two interpretations:

    • The first of them is Pan as a greek god. In mithology, Pan was the protestor of the sheperds, but later He become Pan the Great or The Great Everything in the neoplatonic doctrine.

    • The second interpretation is relacionated with a sentence and its history. The sentence is “Pan the Great has died”, and the history is the next: According to Plutarco, this sentence had sounded misterioustly in the lake Paxos; and a voice would have told Tamos the pilot to extend the piece of news. When he did it, an invisible multitud began to shouth and lament. This prodigious happenned during the kingdom of Tiberious, and it was interpreted as the advertisment of the end of the pagan world.

    11. Plot

    The plot of this play is confusing and nosense: this play belong to the theatre of absurd. Because of this, it would not be for everybody. What is happenning on the stage is very difficult to understand for the audience, and the big group of connotations that are included on the scenes would not probably be understand by the public.

    12. What do you like/dislike of the novel?

    We have liked the play in itself, because it is different to whatever thing we have already read. But we have found a problem in it: as we have mencionated, the spectators need to have some religious knowledges to understand all the author want to say with this play.

    SAMUEL BARCLAY BECKETT

    WAITING

    FOR

    GODOT”

    Literatura

    Inglesa

    John Whiting

    “Saint´s Day”

    John Osborne

    “Look back in Anger”

    Samuel Beckett

    “Waiting for Godot”

    Harold Pinter

    “The Caretaker”