Author's Diction~Vipin Behari Goyal: Waiting for Godot: An Absurd Drama by Samuel Beckett

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Waiting for Godot: An Absurd Drama by Samuel Beckett

How absurd is meaningful? 

absurd drama

It’s all about waiting. The waiting is the only talked-about activity. The waiting is endless! The waiting is crucial! The waiting is commitment! There is no alternative but to wait.

So here, in ‘Waiting for Godot’ waiting is an action.

Let us contemplate on a few verses from Geeta. Geeta is the only religious book which is purely philosophical in nature.

"What is action? What is inaction? Even the wise are confused in this matter. This action, I shall explain to you, having known which, you shall be released from evil” (4:16)."
"The real nature of action is hard to understand” (4:17)."
“One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities.”(4:18)."

Science says every action has a reaction, but those actions that do not reproduce reactions are inaction. But there is one condition. The action is performed in a transcendental position.
Now, philosophically transcendental means “asserting a fundamental irrationality or supernatural element in experience.”


Waiting is a fundamental irrational experience not only for the characters on stage, but also for the audience. This is also evident in repetition of the same dialogue between two characters at the end of Act 1 and Act II, in reverse order.

At the end of Act 1 in "Waiting for Godot".

"Estragon says: Well, shall we go?
Vladimir replies: Yes, Let’s go.
[They do not move.]
While in the end of Act 2
Vladimir says: Well, shall we go?
Estragon replies: Yes, Let’s go.
[They do not move.]"

Both of them said“Let’s Go”, but did not move. To say is an action which does not cause any reaction. In transcendence action is inaction and inaction becomes action.
Many dimensions of waiting have been explored and many yet remain to be explored. 

The waiting is in reference to time.

"Vladimir: That passed the time.
Estrogen: It would have passed anyway."

French Philosopher Henry Bergson in his theory of duration(la duree) established that time can be grasped through intuition and imagination only since its is permanently in the state of  ‘movable and incomplete’.

"Estragon: Simply wait.
Vladimir: We are used to it.
Waiting is habit. It is a conditioning of mind. It is Comfort zone. It is an identity fixation since ‘billions are doing it everyday."

Waiting is passion, and whole human life is passion. Man starts his journey with ‘doubt’:

"Estragon: You gave me a fright.
Vladimir: I thought it was he.
Estragon: Who?
Vladimir: Godot.
Estragon: Pah! The wind in the reeds.
Vladimir: I could have sworn I heard shouts.
Estrogen: And why would he shout?
Vladimir: At his horse."

Through doubt man wants to reach a 'belief '. The faith is a miracle. Waiting is for that miracle to happen. There are some pseudo-references in all religion that miracle do occur.

"Estragon: I remember the map of Holy Land. Coloured they were. Very pretty. The dead sea was pale blue. The very look of it made me thirsty. That’s where we will go, I used to say, that’s where we’ll go for our honeymoon. We will swim. We’ll be happy."

Waiting is hope that everything will be better tomorrow. 

Waiting is for 'Second Coming’, that would solve all their problems, waiting is for salvation and that is why they repent. The repeated references from the Old Testament and the New Testament reminds us of Christian Existentialist, Soren Kierkegaard

Does man suffer despair for want of faith in God.
Waiting is an escapism from the struggles and the nothingness of life.

Waiting is a journey from essentialism to existentialism.

Meaningful phrases from the play and lessons they teach:

1. Vladimir: Be reasonable, you haven't yet tried everything. And I resumed the struggle.
2. Vladimir: (He buttons his fly)Never neglect the little things of life.
3. Vladimir: Hope deferred maketh the something sick.
4. Vladimir: Blaming on his boots the fault of his feet.
5. Vladimir: The essential doesn't change.
6. Pozzo: Think twice before you do anything rash.
7. Pozzo: From the meanest creature one departs wiser, richer, more conscious of one's blessings.
8. Pozzo: I might just as well have been in his shoes and he in mine.
9. Vladimir: To every man his little cross.
10. Vladimir: Let us not waste our time in idle discourse.

T.S.Eliot in his poem "The Four Quartets" says


"I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting."


Faith,Hope and Love are in waiting. Not only in waiting but poet suggests a sort of perpetual waiting. In "Tall Man Small Shadow" this poem has been quoted from an existentialist point of view.

Use of Sex Symbols in Waiting for Godot:

Carrot:

ESTRAGON 
Fancy that. 
(He raises what remains of the carrot by the stub of leaf, twirls it before his eyes.) Funny, the more you eat the worse it gets.
VLADIMIR 
With me it's just the opposite.
 

Vladimir and Estragon have a relationship which seems to be more than friendship. Temperamentally they are different, but they are bound by some invisible bond which could be Sex. There are subtle hints for that.

Firstly, the waiting itself can be seen as an impotent act. Vladimir is sterile and suffers erectile dysfunction. His offer of carrot is symbolic . Estragon holds the stub of carrot and by the stub of leaf and twirls it before the eyes, is enough to demonstrate his opinion about Vladimir impotency.

Fly:

Estrogon's unbuttoned fly is not simple abrupt humour. It has some implications. It could be pain and suffering caused by sexual incompetence. T. S. Eliot has ridiculed sterile relationship and mechanisation of sexual act in The Wasteland'.Similarly, Beckett also makes a mockery of meaninglessness and uselessness of fly in sterile relationship.Vladimir seems to be suggesting something more when he said "Never ignore little things in life". It may be his pain or suffering for being ignored due to "little thing".

Pants Off:

In the end of the play the last conversation which usually concludes the theme of the play is:

Vladimir: Pull on your trousers.
Estrogon: What?
Vladimir: Pull on your trousers.
Estrogon: You want me to pull off my trousers.
Vladimir: Pull on your trousers.

As if the audience is also being asked to buckle up their pants since the show is over.



© Vipin Behari Goyal
Advocate, Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur, India