“Man” in Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” [Archives:2005/834/Education]

April 18 2005

By Dr. Bashar Ghazi Askar
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Man sometimes feels senseless, absurd, and purposeless. This feeling of anguish is due to the psychological, social, cultural and economic situations that man finds himself in. According to Beckett, man is defeated, his hopes and promises are shattered due to an inevitable devaluation of ideas, and loss of purity of purposes.

According to Beckett's philosophy embedded in the Theatre of the Absurd, man feels strange and lacks hope for the future. Life presents a formidable challenge to all his dreams and hopes. So he feels a sense of utter isolation and alienation . There is no sense or taste in life. It seems that all men are doomed to die in sheer desperation as the social and personal values are continually degraded, leaving man in a state of misery, perplexity and loss of identity

One naturally feels miserable in this world of agony, pains, suffering and destruction. Is man stripped off of all his morals and traditions? Is he stripped off his social position? All these are questions that arise now and then in our minds suggesting to us that we are living in a dreadful world, a world of no norms or principles. Beckett in this context remarks: ” Man is alone thrown into a meaningless world; a closed world; he is chained to the process of waiting. He is tied to the hope of delivery by something outside the self, tied to the hope of arrival of Godot, who will apparently change his being.”

The tramps on the unknown road waiting under a bare tree in Beckett's play represent hopelessness of their own waiting for the unknown hope or the unknown miracle. In the waiting there is a dramatic tension and a suspense of those tramps just passing time and talking senselessly. In reality man is in the process of waiting and hoping for something new to enter to his life. Man is surrounded with areas of impenetrable darkness. Man lives this spiritual bankruptcy which represents the lack of any sustainable meaning of life.

The two tramps are unknown, they come from nowhere and have nowhere to go. The only thing that keeps them in touch is that they receive messages through a little boy.

The boy promises that Godot, hope, future or tomorrow may come to help and support. Estragon and Vladimir are merely alive, but no longer living in a world. To them the world is empty. They do nothing. They wish to go on living but their lives have become pointless. Estragon and Vladimir remark:” Therefore we must be waiting for something.”