Waiting for Godot – Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beckett called his playWaiting for Godot “a tragi-comedy in two acts”. It is because, through his play, he wanted to demonstrate the tragic and comic side of life. The play is often referred to as a fine example of the “Theatre of the Absurd” because a clear plot, plausible situations, and comprehensible dialogue that one sees in a traditional play are absent. The very reason for such absence is the need to effectively express the vision of absurdity. Beckett was firm on this principle. To him, bombarding the audience with actions that perplex them and dialogues that seem meaningless to them was to give them a taste of the absurd nature of life.

For a short play, Waiting for Godot is thematically complex. I don’t claim to have understood them all. Search for the meaning of life, the identity of self, appearance, and reality are some of the themes I perceived. And all these can come under the cloak of the human condition. The play is a good exposition of the true situation of human life on this earth. It is full of meaningless absurdities and suffering. Through his few characters, Beckett displays the conditions of humans on earth, often imbued with dark humour.

In the play, two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait for a man called, Godot, who never appears. This waiting is central to the play, for it shows that the characters wait for an uncertain event. They aren’t quite sure if Godot will ever come to meet them. However, their very waiting indicates hope that, though uncertain, he may arrive. Isn’t this how we go on in life? Waiting for uncertainty with hope?

Getting into the play was not easy. I did the audiobook first thinking I might like a dramatic narrative. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, as dialogues went over my head. I then read an ebook and it made me comprehend the play, although I didn’t quite connect with the play. On reflection, it dawned on me why I couldn’t connect with the play since the premise greatly interested me. It was because I was expecting a traditional play with a linear plot and meaningful dialogue which was non-existent here. So, I reread. After three consecutive reads (including the audio listen) I finally managed to fully appreciate the play.

Waiting for Godot is considered a very important play that revolutionised twentieth-century theatre. Whatever the extent of its truth, Beckett quite certainly pioneered a new style of addressing the true nature of life through his play.

Rating: 4/5

About the author

Piyangie Jay Ediriwickrema is an Attorney-at-Law by profession. Her devotion to literature has taken shape in reading and reviewing books of various genres set in different periods of time. She dabs at a little poetry and fiction of her own and hopes to share her work with the readers in the future.