Non Fiction

The Monotony of Life, A Brief Analysis of Waiting For Godot

Samuel Beckett has explicitly stated that the character Godot, in his classic play, Waiting For Godot, is not an allegory for God.  If Beckett’s word on his play is believed to be true, there are still significant biblical corollaries that need to be analyzed in order to understand the main existential theme of meaninglessness in the play.  The two tramps, Vladimir and Estragon, eternally wait for a man named Godot on the side of a road they never take.  In a Christian point of view, this could be seen as Vladimir and Estragon having the free will to take the path toward enlightenment, and yet choosing inaction instead (and thus never attaining salvation).

The parallels between Christian and Existential philosophy can be seen throughout the play, and if the reader is not aware of Becket’s statements on Godot, then they could come to the conclusion that Godot is indeed an allegory for God.  This reaction can be most easily understood through Vladimir and Estragon’s initial hypothesis as to why they are waiting for Godot, “Estragon: What exactly did we ask him for? Vladimir: Were you not there? Estragon: I can’t have been listening. Vladimir: Oh … Nothing very definite. Estragon: A kind of prayer. Vladimir: Precisely.”  One may argue however, that Vladimir and Estragon do not seem like reliable sources because of their flawed character traits, especially due to the irony of the play. However, there are many direct and indirect biblical references in the play that can support a Christian hypothesis.

The biblical references pertain to salvation and are allegorical, particularly in one conversation where Godot is Christ the savior and the two tramps are the two thieves, “Vladimir: Our savior.  Two Thieves. One is supposed to have been saved and the other… (he searches for the contrary of saved)… damned. Estragon: Saved from what? Vladimir: Hell”.  Vladimir suggests that if they do not find Godot, then they will be damned to the hell of living without meaning, hence the conflict of the play.  The mood portrayed just by the setting alone is depressing (a country road, a dirt mound, and a willow tree), but very plain, almost like purgatory.  Through a Christian interpretation, the main characters are the two thieves waiting in limbo to find out whether they will be saved.

Although Vladimir and Estragon wait and come across a few travelers on the way, none of them are Godot.  However, the tramps would not know that because they do not even know what Godot looks like.  The first act seems inconclusive until the end of the day when a messenger boy is sent from Godot to tell the tramps that he is not coming.  Interestingly enough, the messenger boy is none other than a shepherd, a recurring symbol in both the bible and Waiting For Godot.  Jesus was sent by God to herd the sheep and guide them to salvation.  Godot sends his shepherd to guide the tramps into inaction by not giving them any guidance at all.

The second act and day comes and goes the same as the last one, and the same as it always has gone and always will be for the tramps.  Vladimir and Estragon deconstruct linear time within the play by not taking action, and thus suffer through the same day every day.  The brother of the messenger boy from before comes to give the same news to the main characters.  This boy seemingly gives a hint of Godot’s identity, “Vladimir: (softly) Has he a beard, Mr. Godot? Boy: Yes Sir. Vladimir: Fair or… (he hesitates)… or black? Boy: I think it’s white, Sir. Vladimir: Christ have mercy on us…”  Through characterizing Godot as an allegory of a classical depiction of God, and then denying him being God, Beckett is saying that our perception of God is false.  The play connects to the philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard through the blending of Existentialist and Christian ideas.  An individual must find God himself in order to escape meaninglessness, and not fatalistically wait for a divine being to arbitrarily save him.

4 replies on “The Monotony of Life, A Brief Analysis of Waiting For Godot”

Oh I am waiting,
tell me I’m a Saint
so that I can relate

Give me my miracle
“’cause you don’t know
what it’s like to love somebody
to love somebody
like I do.”

Oh give me my true love
and I will believe in you

“Because you don’t know what it’s like”

Have you told me
have you shone me

I don’t think so, and
no point waiting for You
if you will never come
if you don’t know love,
only know the nothingness
that is the logic of the universe

no thank you
I don’t care about space.

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