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Waiting For Godot Essay Research Paper Nothing

Waiting For Godot Essay, Research Paper

?Nothing to be done,? is one of the many phrases that is repeated again and

again throughout Samuel Beckett?s Waiting For Godot. Godot is an

existentialist play that reads like somewhat of a language poem. That is to say,

Beckett is not interested in the reader interpreting his words, but simply

listening to the words and viewing the actions of his perfectly mismatched

characters. Beckett uses the standard Vaudevillian style to present a play that

savors of the human condition. He repeats phrases, ideas and actions that has

his audience come away with many different ideas about who we are and how

beautiful our human existence is even in our desperation. The structure of

Waiting For Godot is determined by Beckett?s use of repetition. This is

demonstrated in the progression of dialogue and action in each of the two acts

in Godot. The first thing an audience may notice about Waiting For Godot is that

they are immediately set up for a comedy. The first two characters to appear on

stage are Vladimir and Estragon, dressed in bowler hats and boots. These

characters lend themselves to the same body types as Abbot and Costello.

Vladimir is usually cast as tall and thin and Estragon just the opposite. Each

character is involved in a comedic action from the plays beginning. Estragon is

struggling with a tightly fitting boot that he just cannot seem to take off his

foot. Vladimir is moving around bowlegged because of a bladder problem. From

this beat on the characters move through a what amounts to a comedy routine. A

day in the life of two hapless companions on a country road with a single tree.

Beckett accomplishes two things by using this style of comedy. Comedy routines

have a beginning and an ending. For Godot the routine begins at the opening of

the play and ends at the intermission. Once the routine is over, it cannot

continue. The routine must be done again. This creates the second act. The

second act, though not an exact replication, is basically the first act

repeated. The routine is put on again for the audience. The same chain of

events: Estragon sleeps in a ditch, Vladimir meets him at the tree, they are

visited by Pozzo and Lucky, and a boy comes to tell them that Godot will not be

coming but will surely be there the following day. In this way repetition

dictates the structure of the play. There is no climax in the play because the

only thing the plot builds to is the coming of Godot. However, after the first

act the audience has pretty much decided that Godot will never show up. It is

not very long into the second act before one realizes that all they are really

doing is wasting time, ?Waiting for…waiting.? (50) By making the second

act another show of the same routine, Beckett instills in us a feeling of our

own waiting and daily routines. What is everyday for us but another of the same

act. Surely small things will change, but overall we seem to be living out the

same day many times over. Another effect of repetition on the structure of Godot

is the amount of characters in the play. As mentioned before, the play is set up

like a Vaudeville routine. In order to maintain the integrity of the routine,

the play must be based around these two characters. This leaves no room for

extra characters that will get in the way of the act. To allow for the

repetition of the routine to take place the cast must include only those

characters who are necessary it. The idea that the two characters are simply

passing time is evident in the dialogue. The aforementioned phrase, ?Nothing

to be done,? is one example of repetition in dialogue. In the first half-dozen

pages of the play the phrase is repeated about four times. This emphasizes the

phrase so that the audience will pick up on it. It allows the audience to

realize that all these two characters have is the hope that Godot will show up.

Until the time when Godot arrives, all they can do is pass the time and wait.

The first information we learn about the characters is how Estragon was beaten

and slept in a ditch. We get the sense that this happens all the time. This is

nothing new to the characters. They are used to this routine. The flow of the

play is based around this feeling that the characters know where each day is

headed. The audience feels that the characters go through each day with the hope

that Godot will come and make things different. In at least three instances in

the play characters announce that they are leaving and remain still on the

stage. These are examples of how the units of the play are effected individually

by repetition. Again, Becket emphasizes this for a reason. This is best shown in

the following beat: Pozzo: I must go. Estragon: And your half-hunter? Pozzo: I

must have left it at the manor. Silence Estragon: Then adieu. Vladimir: Adieu.

Pozzo: Adieu. Silence. No one moves. Vladimir: Adieu. Pozzo: Adieu. Estragon:

Adieu. Silence. Pozzo: And thank you. Vladimir: Thank you. Pozzo: Not at all.

Estragon: Yes yes. Pozzo: No no. Vladimir: Yes yes. Pozzo: No no. Silence. Pozzo:

I don?t seem to be able…(long hesitation)…to depart. Estragon: Such is

life.(31) The last two pieces of the excerpt is very literal. The idea that

going someplace is doesn?t matter, because there is really nowhere to go. All

you can do is find someplace else to wait. Also repeated in the beat is the

stage direction for silence. Silence occurs in life and theater is just a

reflection of our lives. It is, in effect, a line of dialogue. Repeated silence

outlines the awkwardness of the beat. The repetition then creates the tone of

the beat. Many of the play?s beats are comprised of some type of repetition.

?All I know is that the hours are long, under these conditions, and constrain

us to beguile them with proceedings which-how shall I say-which may at first

sight seem reasonable, until they become a habit.?(52) Here Beckett has a

character state flat out what is happening in the play. The plot of the play is

based around repetition. All the pieces of their lives have become habit. When

at first they were ways to pass the days they have become repeated, and through

this repetition they have become unreasonable. The habit that controls our lives

is the same habit that fuels the characters in Godot. The same habit that makes

the structure of Godot a repetition in itself. In the first act, the goings-on

in the play may seem reasonable to the audience. Merely a way for these two

people to pass the hours of their particular day. By making the second act the

same routine, the tragic humor of their situation is revealed. Estragon and

Vladimir are stuck in this way of life. Bound to making each day more of the

same, because they can find no other way to deal with their lives then to try to

pass the time. All the ideas of the play and all the questions that are raised

are highlighted through the use of repetition. Therefore, the structure of the

play is dominated by this single characteristic of the play.