I have a Masters Degree in English Literature and an in-depth understanding about variable dimensions of literary expressions and art.
The names Estragon and Vladimir are well-known in the realm of literary studies as well as recreational reading. The two protagonists of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot are entangled in an absurd struggle to provide meaning to their boredom-ridden life.
While sitting beside a withering tree and endlessly waiting for the mysterious creature Godot, the two men reflect upon the true meaning of their existence in a tragically comic manner. Their menial gestures, seemingly insignificant movements, and pointless debates baffle the reader as they struggle to find the meaning behind this vortex of bizarre actions. However, the fact of the matter is that the drama is an accurate and focused evaluation of the dilemma of the modern human who struggles with similar identity crises every day.
As a philosophy of life, the existentialist narrative surfaced in the backdrop of the Second World War. At this devastating juncture in human history, humankind had lost all hope for redemption. We had no reason to strive for existence, for previously held anchors like religion and nationalism had failed us. When the catastrophic implications of WWll left the void exposed, Existentialism came to the rescue.
This tale of sheer pessimism and lack of belonging is best illustrated in the play, Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. Regarded as the "play which revolutionized the face of modern drama," this artistic masterpiece is in fact a true verbal illustration of the existential dilemma of the modern individual who is desperately striving to find relevance and meaning in life when the era of "Industry 4.0" has declared their existence futile and insignificant.
Basic Propositions of the Existentialist Philosophy
Existentialism is a pessimistic outlook towards life that views the world from the perspective of gloom and dismay. This philosophical discourse narrates the condition of human beings as being one of lost souls wandering around the limitless seas of despair with no hope in sight.
The universe that hosts the species of Homo sapiens appears to them like a void with no outlet for escape. Such alienated existence of humankind, rotting away beneath the sands of anguish and despair, finds solace in the arms of an existentialist when they talk about the human condition under the pretext of "Absurdism."
Absurdity seeks to capture the unshakable will of humanity to carry on living without any logical indispensability of its existence. This philosophical inclination stresses the meaninglessness of life by highlighting the futile indulgences of meager people. This is where the two protagonists, Estragon and Vladimir, seem to be most relevant in terms of the existentialist narrative.
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Estragon: We always find something, eh Didi, to give us the impression we exist?
Vladimir: Yes, yes, we're magicians.
— Samuel Beckett in "Waiting for Godot"
Existence for the Sake of Existence
Throughout the course of the drama, the two main characters do not seem to move from the point of their initial location. They are immobile in a world that has no specific time frame, devoted purpose, or even established systems. In fact, the entire plotline revolves around sheer uncertainty and insecurity.
Amidst this chaos of nothingness, the two characters do little to nothing to alter their fate. They appear to be blind conformists being swayed around by the merciless tide of time. All they do is simply exist without actually endeavoring to inject meaning and purpose to their existence. This high level of plot absurdity makes this play such an exquisite masterpiece of the Absurdist Theater in particular and a reflection of the philosophy of Existentialism in general.
Estragon: Well, shall we go?
Vladimir: Yes, let's go.
(They do not Move)
— Samuel Beckett in "Waiting for Godot"
Resham Jehangir (author) from Pakistan on May 10, 2020:
Exactly sir. Circumstances like these prompt you to really wonder about the existentialist questions of life.
Gilbert Arevalo from Hacienda Heights, California on May 10, 2020:
We're going through a pandemic crisis right now, Resham. "Waiting for Godot," seems like a perfect play to read once I get a chance.
Issam El Masmodi on May 07, 2020:
A landmark in the theatre of the absurd