Waiting for Godot


There are surely hundreds of interpretations of Samuel Beckett's two-act tragicomedy Waiting for Godot. This may well have been Beckett's intention, or came about unconsciously as such: to have an audience search and endlessly wait for meaning in a play about a search and endless wait for meaning. Existentialist in that the two main characters, Vladimir and Estragon (really two sides of the same coin) seek some value in, and perhaps validation of, their subjective existences. Though, my take on the play was influenced by books I've recently read, including works by Albert Camus, who might describe Beckett's play as a "confrontation between human need and the unreasonable silence of the world," as Camus explained the Absurd. And Alan Watts' The Book and his idea that “the prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin is a hallucination." Vladimir/Estragon may not come close to this same understanding, but the road is there, though they remain in the same spot throughout the play, and presumably forever after the lights dim. Years ago, I played the Player in a production of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and this too had an influence on my Godot experience, as Stoppard's play is very similar in a lot of ways (but funnier, I'd argue). After reading Waiting for Godot, I found the 2001 Irish film on YouTube here. Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, and starring Barry McGovern and Johnny Murphy, it's quite good. Watching it I could more clearly see how both acts are basically the same—the second a slightly altered retelling of the first, and so nothing happens twice! Thus the tragedy, and the comedy.


“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? They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.”


—Pozzo in Act II, after he's heard enough from Vladimir and Estragon about time.



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