Chance In Waiting For Godot Essay, Research Paper
Chance in Waiting for Godot
Chance plays a major role in Samuel Beckett s tragic comedy Waiting for Godot . In human life, chance rather than reason is the main influence on our lives. According to Beckett, life of humans is completely dependent on chance and as a result of this time would be meaningless. Chance has an impact on the value of time and it is also the underlying factor behind existence.
In Waiting for Godot it is suggested that existence is based on chance and by extension, human life is based on chance. Beckett established this very early on in the play. One of the thieves was saved. It s a reasonable percentage (Beckett, 5). Vladimir here refers to the parable of the two thieves from the Bible. Perhaps Beckett s intended means that the fate of humans is determined randomly. There is an unknown percentage chance that one will be damned. There is no pattern behind it all and one does not know how big the chances of being damned or saved are. Therefor one can say that a life based on chance has no meaning.
Salvation is determined by chance as well. According to the Gospel the hour disciples of Jesus were present during his crucifixion and saw the two thieves, which were crucified with Jesus, being saved or damned. All four disciples were present, but only two of them states that something out of ordinary happened. how is it- this is not boring you I hope- how is it that of the four Evangelists only one speaks of a thieve being saved. The four of them were there- or thereabouts- and only one speaks of a thieve being saved (Beckett, 6). One of the two said that only one of the thieves was damned, while the other said that both thieves were banned. It might not seem of great importance, but does he chance for salvation not vary a great deal here? If all thieves were saved, then chances for salvation would be a hundred percent, but if three of the four thieves were damned, chances of salvation would be no more than twenty-five percent. Salvation therefor is determined by chance.
One can see the arbitrary of chance in the two boys. One of them gets beaten by Godot and the other one does not He beats my brother, Sir (Beckett, 55). There seems to be no reason for Godot to beat one of the boys but not the other. This symbolizes the chances of being saved or damned. If one of the boys gets beaten by Godot while the other has it good, chances of being saved would be fifty percent.
According to Beckett, time is based on chance. There seems to be no ordered pattern in Waiting for Godot . Vladimir and Estragon s world is one of chaos and no real order. The tree, which is the only setting, is barren on one day and full of leaves the next. Every day Vladimir and Estragon return to the same place to wait for Godot, who never appears. And if he doesn t come? We ll come back to-morrow. And the day after to-morrow. Until he comes. (Beckett, 9). No one seems to remember what happened the day before What did we do yesterday? (Beckett, 9). Neither Vladimir nor Estragon seems to be sure of what happened in the past. They only make assumptions such as In my opinion we were here (Beckett, 9).
The setting of the play therefor represents that time is based on chance, and as a result human life is based on chance, which determines existence. Therefor time is meaningless. Hence past, present, and future mean nothing and it does not matter for how long Estragon and Vladimir have been waiting for Godot or how much longer they will continue waiting.
Because time is based on chance and is thus meaningless, life is arbitrarily and meaningless as well. Pozzo and Lucky are a perfect example of this. On the first day Pozzo is healthy and complaining about his slave Lucky, who is getting old and not as strong and entertaining as he used to be. As Pozzo said He used to dance the farandole, the fling, the brawl, the jig, the fandango and even the hornpipe. He capered. For joy. Now that s the best he can do (Beckett, 42). As chance wanted it, Pozzo is bolt while Lucky has long white hair. As Pozzo exclaimed I might as well have been in his shoes and he in mine. If chance had not willed otherwise. (Beckett, 31).
By chance, Vladimir and Pozzo meet again the next day. The situation has changed drastically. Lucky is mute now while Pozzo has turned blind and does not remember when it happened. Pozzo has absolutely no recollection of the previous meeting, and even claims that Lucky has always been mute, even though just the day before he gave a long philosophical discourse when commanded to think . Vladimir questions Pozzo about his blindness and gets as an answer I woke up one fine day as blind as Fortune. (Beckett, 99). Vladimir remains curious and questions Pozzo further about his lost sight, but Pozzo is unable to give much information Don t question me! The blind have no notion of time. The things of time are hidden from them too (Beckett, 99). After a while Pozzo adds, I don t remember having met anyone yesterday. But to-morrow I won t remember having met anyone to-day. (Beckett, 101-102). Beckett uses Pozzo s situation to symbolize the effects time has on human beings. Human life, which is based on chance, makes life meaningless as an extension of the meaningless of time. Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time. It s abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you, one day he went dumb, one day I went blind, one day we ll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you? (Beckett, 103). A life based on chance is worthless.
Due to the arbitrary nature of life there is a human tendency to look for meaning amongst random events. Vladimir and Estragon make an attempt to remain oblivious to the fact that life is meaningless. They try to distract themselves by arguing, talking to Lucky and Pozzo, and sleeping. Their reason for hanging on to Godot is simple. Godot gives them a reason for living, but Godot might not even exist. They rely in him to solve their problems and offer them a better life. As long as they believe in Godot s existence and that he will appear someday, they have a reason to go on and not hang themselves. Ah Gogo, don t go on like that. To-morrow everything will be better (Beckett, 57). He said Godot was sure to come to-morrow (Beckett, 57). Godot is their unknown outside force that gives them hope.
If life is based on chance, humans need to rely on a Godot to give their lives a meaning. Vladimir and Estragon need Godot for that same reason. They need him to cope with their meaningless lives. No one, including Vladimir and Estragon, knows if Godot actually exists or if he will ever appear. However, it does not matter. Their believe in him gives them a meaning, a reason to live for, which is all they ask for. What are we doing here, that is the question. And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in this immense confusion one thing alone is clear. We are waiting for Godot to come (Beckett, 91). Vladimir is saying that Godot is the only one that makes sense in this big confusion and as long as they can rely on him to come, they have a reason for living.
Waiting for Godot is a tragic comedy about the world, the way it is based on chance and the effect chance has on human life. A world purely based on chance has no orderly time sequence, and as an extension has no meaning. If time has no meaning, as a result, life would have no meaning. Humans therefor have to rely on a greater unknown force to provide them with a meaning. Godot is such a force.