Posted at 10.01.2018
Keywords: waiting for godot comedy, waiting for godot tragedy
Samuel Becketts Looking forward to Godot is a play both funny to view and also to read. Yet, the sensation that one walks away with in the long run is not one of leisure, but that of minor discomfort. Upon better inspection, one commences to note tragic features neatly covered but subconsciously blatant. One also perceives the play labelled as a tragicomedy. In an attempt to further explore this issue, I explored the research question:
In order to answer this research question, an in-depth research of the various themes within the play was completed. Aspects of the play that added to each theme were designated and their respective comedic and tragic elements likened by examining their jobs and contribution to the theme. The investigation also extends itself into interpreting the author's beliefs and purposes, namely Lucky's speech, to review the tragic or comedic records. Through my research I concluded that there tend to be more tragic than comedic elements in Waiting for Godot, but more accurately, Beckett veils the tragedy of his play behind humour, and uses the humor to heighten the tragic elements.
In Looking forward to Godot, a tragicomedy in two serves by Samuel Beckett, two individuals unconsciously point out the sombre emptiness in life by comical means. At face value it is funny and light-hearted, yet a second glance at the concealed metaphoric and symbolic devices unveils a forbidden garden blooming with tragedy. Both genres complement one another, humour creating tragedy, tragedy creating humour. Indeed, it is this peculiar pairing that qualifies the play both in essence and as a pun: a tragicomedy. At a superficial glance, the play seems filled with un-humanlike action and harbours an inane sense of humour. The planned communication of the motif is unclear and many of the characters are left concealed in darkness amidst a vast appearance of dialect that is comical at the surface. This clues at the idea that a skinny blanket of obvious humor is utilised to disguise the best tragedy present at heart. This tragedy is taken forth via a splattering of motifs, such as time, meaning and presence, and God. By exploring this romance, a cohesive knowledge of the comical and tragic elements becomes possible, allowing us to decipher the jobs they play in the play. Consequently, will elucidate that Waiting for Godot does contain more elements of tragedy, and their relevance and meaning are much larger than some of this play's comedic value.
In order to investigate both the comedic and tragic elements, an understanding of how they are being used in conjunction is necessary. In other words, we should first know very well what a tragicomedy requires. By explanation, a tragicomedy is a remarkable work making use of both tragic and comic elements. However, this denotation will bit more than restate everything we already know. In most cases, the meaning of any tragicomedy has morphed as time passes. It was in the beginning coin by Plautus, a Roman dramatist in the 2nd century B. C. E. as a play where gods and men, experts and slaves reverse the roles customarily assigned to them, gods and heroes operating in comic burlesque and slaves adopting tragic dignity. Then during the Renaissance, tragicomedy became a genre of play that combined tragic elements into dilemma that was mainly comic. With the advancement of realism later in the 19th century, tragicomedy underwent just one more revision. Whilst still mixing up the two elements, comic interludes now outlined the ironic counterpoints inherent in a play, making the tragedy seem to be even more destructive. In this way, it can be said tragicomedy is a far more significant and serious presence than traditional tragedy. Lastly, modern tragicomedy may also be used synonymously with Absurdist dilemma, which claim that laughter is the only real response remaining to man when he is faced with the tragic emptiness and meaninglessness of existence.
The last two classifications will be the most relevant explanations and I believe those to be similar to Beckett's understanding of tragicomedy when he labelled his play as such during his translation. Certainly, there may be comic interlude including the discussion that occurs between Vladimir and Estragon in Work II during Pozzo's cries for help "We ought to ask him for the bone first. Then if he refuses we'll leave him there" (p89), which features the tragic declare that Pozzo is within through their comically serious bout about whether or not to help him and certainly there too can be an exploration of the emptiness and meaninglessness of living, which is fundamentally the actual theme of the entire play.
A bleak and tragic firmness permeates the atmosphere at the start of the play. The stage is empty apart from a bare tree and two ragged tramps, Estragon and Vladimir. The very start of the play begins with the narrative, "Estragon, sitting on a low mound, is wanting to remove his boot. He pulls at it with both of your hands, panting. He offers up, worn out, rests, will try again. As before. " (p2). Immediately after, Estragon, who gives up just as before, talks the famous words "Nothing to be done", arguably the defining mode of the entire play. The encompassing circumstances of the people emanate an alien disconnection to the planet and leave the audience utterly perplexed and bewildered by the seemingly nonexistent motive of the people. The tragic elements are seen in the circumstances of the heroes, their physical disabilities, their lost sense of their time and maximum futility, their doomed lifetime where "Nothing happens and nothing at all can be carried out, and the clear stage while the comic elements revolve around the video games the heroes invent, their interactions with one another, and the vaudevillian routines.
Vladimir and Estragon are portrayed as homeless tramps devoid of purpose, as strongly backed by their paralysis, "Well, shall we go? Yes, let's go. They don't move. " In much the same way, other character types, such as Pozzo and Blessed, are characterized too as directionless pairs, symbolized by their deafness and muteness in Take action II ". . . Pozzo is blind. . . "(p87). From simply analyzing the character types, we can see that they, like all humans, have the potential to be "better" personas with "better" good sense. Our definition of normal and expected human behaviour may just as well be non-applicable to the setting up of the play, hence the use of "better" is doubtful. Our expected explanation of tragedy may be considered a derivation of our own encounters. When someone falls into a predicament that, therefore of societal conformation, triggers us to develop certain emotions, we feel for his or her loss or misfortune. However, the context of "Looking forward to Godot" places us in a world so unwanted, because within the initial intentional humor lies a dimensions of tragedy that we cannot clearly relate to, determining itself as delusional even to the point of becoming disturbing. The inane dialogue and personalities of the play's themes sets a situation so capricious that the boundaries of examination must be broadened to simply accept such ideas of individuals behaviour before you'll be able to understand Beckett's note and embrace the idea that one can be so unresponsive with an apparently interminable hold out. By taking advantage of the set perspectives of the audience, their actions become an absurd comedy that contributes to the tragic tone of the whole play.
The unchanging "Nothing to be done" (p2) reinforces helplessness and utter desperation instead of the protagonists. Their physical disabilities will be the tragic circumstances that baffles the audience even though making us laugh, shows us the meaninglessness of their presence, such as Vladimir's bladder problems, hinted at when "advancing with brief, stiff strides, thighs huge apart" (p2), and Estragon's battles with his ft, disturbed rest, and abuse by individuals he has no memory of, spending the night time "in a ditch" and claims that " 'they' beat me", where 'they' is never determined Such dialogue can be labelled as tragic as their own particular personalities and personal problems lead to the original, main point that comedy only shrouds the tragedy.
An excellent exemplory case of such a circumstance is seen on (p85) when Vladimir and Estragon spontaneously break out into unanimous, unprecedented discussion and mark the other person with insults such as "Ceremonious ape!" and "Punctilious Pig!" Following the banter, "They embrace. They split. " (p86). While at the surface this landscape may be considered comedic because of the spontaneous outburst, if we bring ourselves to look past this, we see that it's tragic when they reconcile. The tragedy exists in their romantic relationship. They both concur that each would be better off exclusively, as Estragon says "You piss better when I'm not there. " (p64) and Vladimir replies, "I skipped you. . . and at the same time I was happy. " (p64). Not surprisingly, they continue steadily to stay together, not knowing why. Because of this, it could be said that it's tragic how Vladimir and Estragon haven't any control over themselves nor the exterior factors affecting them. What is even more tragic is the futility of these wait. The fact that Godot will not ever arrive which there is nothing achieved with the apparent passing of time as symbolized on (p62) by the declaration that "The tree has four or five leaves" determine the seemingly meaninglessness of these "goal". This idea of eternally unproductive improvement proves to show a tragic image in the intellects of the audience.
Right after this world is another just as tragic at heart. Estragon commences by questioning, "What do we do now?" (p86) to which Vladimir responds "We're able to do our exercises" (p86). That is followed by some exaggerated actions and comically tires Estragon out after a straightforward hop "That's enough, I'm tired. " (p86). This once again shows their lack of ability to do what they want, a concept that is went to once more at the end of the play on (p109) when Vladimir questions, "Well? Shall we go?" to which Estragon responds, "Yes, let's go. " but both do not move. This inability to accomplish such simple actions can be deemed tragic, and questions the goal of their lifetime. "We always find something, eh Didi, to give us the impression we can be found?" (p77). Remember that Estragon uses the term impression, implying they are alert to the meaninglessness and futility of these put it off. Something must happen yet little or nothing must happen when waiting around and Beckett skilfully achieves this balance. It is not only the overall act of waiting that is tragic, but also the items Estragon and Vladimir do during their hang on that is tragic. True to the fact of the play, many of the comical actions are combined with tragedy. Both insult the other person and then reconcile. "Vermin! Abortion!. . . Now let's constitute!. . . "(p85) and is quite amusing, except that we once again forget the tragedy: throwing insults at one another because they have little or nothing to do. Vladimir loses his sense of time, a repeating motif, after having regained somewhat from it "You're sure you found me, you will not come and tell me tomorrow that you never noticed me!" (p106) and "Was I long asleep? I have no idea. " (p107). His uncertainty is humorous, but the same doubt creates a sense of disarray. What this multitude of examples signify is mankind's inexhaustible search for so this means, to which Beckett believes leads nowhere but tragedy, and that comedy, imbued with tragedy, is tragedy itself. Through this, human life, its interpretation and existence, as displayed in Waiting for Godot, concludes in tragedy.
Vladimir and Estragon are not the only heroes used to express tragedy. Another match exists, plus they play just like crucial a job as others. Pozzo and Blessed are portrayed so that it's hard to imagine that Lucky was once Pozzo's coach, and is now treated such as a slave. Masters and slave reversed the assignments traditionally designated to them. He is depicted as the utmost intellectually vacuous figure, yet it is suggested that he has a history which hints at the fact that Lucky can think, recite, and sing, strongly reinforced by his lengthy, complicated, and almost nonsensical speech: "Given the presence. . . unfinished. . . " (p45-47). However, I think it is doubtful that Beckett would dedicate so much text message into a talk if its lone goal was to confuse. Lucky's speech discloses that he will need to have spent many hours exploring the deplorable human being situation. By meticulously wearing down Lucky's outburst, one notice, as Beckett has concealed tragedy inside humor, there's a deeper meaning hidden within the speech and its purpose is not exclusively comedic.
Reasonably speaking, Lucky's talk during the play appears completely disoriented, a chaotic mass of incoherent vocabulary, given the short timeframe the audience has to process each clause. But heading past this comical veil of nonsense, a magnificent construction come up with as meticulously as the play itself materializes. The talk has three specific parts. The first part of the monologue starts by assuming the presence of a God as confirmed and then describing him. Removing extra phrases, we get roughly ". . . with white beard. . . exterior time without expansion who. . . enjoys us dearly with some exceptions for reasons unknown. . . are plunged in torment. . . in fire. . . whose flame. . . will fire firmament that is to say blast hell to heaven so blue still and calm. . . " (p45) God is referred to as a paradoxical fatherly body always present irrespective of time, whom may be affectionate, but at the same time states that if it's, most are excluded. That those beings are directed into hell, symbolizing earth, into hearth, whose open fire will destroy the blue and calm vault of the sky (firmament), which is a contrast between serenity and human anguish. Then there too is the mention of divine apathia, divine athambia, and divine aphasia. Divine identifies God. Apathia is apathy and means the absence of passion, emotion, or exhilaration. Athambia is imperturbability, to be not capable of being annoyed or agitated and not easily excited, and aphasia is an inability to vocalize. These three Greek words provide three purposes. The first is that they have characterized the impuissance of Christianity as a modern religion. God is apathetic: he will not intervene. God is imperturbable: he hasn't been come to by living humans. And God is aphasic: he has never spoken, even to confirm his very own existence. In this sense, Lucky, who in cases like this symbolizes the literary embodiment of Beckett, is rejecting the existence of a God, by proclaiming that even if he does exist, he has discontinued us, going out of only despair.
The three words also provide as Beckett's view on what the direction society all together is headed towards. That we are little by little becoming twisted in apathy: we do not seek out others; twisted in athambia: others cannot reach us; and twisted in aphasia: there is absolutely no more words, with the introduction of Internet and cultural communications/networking. Finally, the three words identify Lucky's deterioration. It expresses, in turn, his insufficient emotion, followed by an oblivious awareness of his surroundings, and finally, whenever we next meet him, his tone. This perhaps, assists as a metaphor for the drop in the real human quality, alarming and appalling. It could appear then, that first part of Lucky's speech hides a dreary and tragic tone underneath the torrent of disorientated words.
The second part of his talk becomes more and more difficult to decipher. You will find a lot more interruptions and repetition of phrasing, obscuring the subject matter. This perhaps may be deliberately, as Beckett could be expressing the repetitiveness of life and its lack of interpretation. Condensing continuing phrases and eliminating interruptions, I get "and considering what is more that because of this of the labours left unfinished. . . the labours of men. . . set up beyond all hesitation. . . that man. . . wastes and pines. . . in spite of. . the practice of sports activities. . . of all kinds. . . concurrently. . . time will inform. . . fades away. . . the death of Bishop Berkeley being to the melody of one inch four ounce per head. . . no real matter what. . . the facts is there" (p45-46) The meaning here says that, to add onto the lack of God as previously stated (hence labours unfinished), it is confirmed, certainly, that man is in circumstances of decrease, despite technological progress (labours of men) and physical activity (practice of sports). Bishop Berkeley's loss of life marked the beginning of this fall season. With all of this happening at once, only time will tell whenever we will eventually fade away. Lucky attempts in his talk to bring back Berkeley's harmonization of God and technology, but ends up doing the contrary. By associating each brain with "one in. four ounce", it quantifies life and hence devalues humans, slowly reducing us to an execrable state. It becomes visible that the comedy of Lucky's swiftness is merely a cover up, the real subject matter is an appalling and tragic commentary on real human progress.
The increased entropy in Lucky's talk is reflective of his life. He was once very intellectual and experienced great mental capacity, but exactly like man, has degraded. This third and final part of his talk can only be described as chaotic and stressed, accumulating towards a climax. "and considering what is much more grave that in the light of the labours lost. . . in the plains in the mountains by the seas by the rivers. . . running fire. . . the fantastic cold the great dark. . . the earth abode of rocks. . . I job application the skull fading. . . the flames the tears the stones. . . the skull the skull the skull the skull. . . alas alas discontinued unfinished the skull the skull. . . the rocks. . . so quiet. . . unfinished. . . " (p46-47) These ideas clarify that as a result of this decrease (labours lost), grave outcomes look, in the plains, mountains, seas, and waterways. Running open fire symbolizes widespread chaos, followed by frigid desolate despair, by itself. The earth becomes reduced to stones, and skulls, representing the fatality of men, wastes away. Chaos tears through the planet earth, and loss of life is rampant. As God has empty men, kept them unfinished, loss of life continues on earth, and there is peaceful because - unfinished. He's cut off with "unfinished" as his last word, referring to the incomplete speech and shrinking of mankind. With the final outcome of the final part of Lucky's talk, it becomes obvious that although it indeed fulfills its role as amusing humour, the true so this means is cataclysmic, and the fact that people are laughing at it is dramatically ironic.
Lucky's conversation has much regarding time, with good reason. The play includes some occurrences where time appears to be moving at a crawl, if. It is something a lot more complicated than it may seem. On the surface, time is a numerical where growth is measured. On a much deeper level, time can be quite difficult to identify. Through the entire play, the main idea of what time is really, is analyzed.
In the context of what has took place or exactly what will happen, time can be categorised as good or bad. In Waiting for Godot, the stress of waiting makes time drag. If time is what growth is measured by, if nothing changes, does time really move? Inside the play, we await change, waiting for Godot. Yet, in reality, things change as a constant, where we do not realize we are ready. It is merely when change is slow-moving to come when we realize that were in circumstances of inaction. It is in this realization that brings a source of pain to the individual. Vladimir and Estragon constantly strive to be spontaneous and vibrant to be able to ensure change, but always come to the inescapable realization that these were waiting. Characteristic of the play, we often notice them say "Let's go. We can not. You will want to? We're waiting for Godot. " It really is comical how Estragon appears to forget their purpose, and is continually reminded, but moreover, this shows their sudden realization with their anticipation of change. Yet Godot himself never looks in the play. His personality is irrelevant, what is important is the take action of looking forward to someone or something that never occurs. He's the essence of change and your final solution. The repetition of his name impresses after the audience the same feeling of anticipation. It is tragic as the play concludes that Godot never does show up, demonstrating that both serves are but a cut of a pattern, or of two mirrors reflecting endlessly. The end of the play can be matched up to the start. Nothing has altered, little character development is made and what little changes that contain occurred have reverted back to original, such as Vladimir's epiphany where he proclaims: "Why don't we not spend our amount of time in idle discourse!. . . " p(91) and coerces the audience into thinking that perhaps, finally, some semblance of development can look. Alas, the powerful soliloquy extends to an anticlimax, interrupted by the continuous change of theme natural in the play. Time is apparently circular, as opposed to linear. The last mentioned has divided, because happenings do not develop into progress and change. The guy returns bearing indistinguishable communications, Godot never comes and tomorrow never appears to turn up. Vladimir mentions that "time has discontinued" (p37).
Estragon and Vladimir, during their finite lifetime, are moving relentlessly towards a presumably unobtainable event. It really is like an asymptotic curve, always getting nearer to a value, but never attaining it. Estragon expresses this tragic destiny of uneventful repetitive presence as he exclaims, "Nothing happens, no one comes, nobody moves, it's terrible!" (p43). The realization that there won't be an end to the longing is evidence for their contemplation of suicide, as Estragon says, "What about clinging ourselves?" (p12). Once the audience has grasped this, a plethora of ideas emerge. Some are associated with other topics in the play, such as the meaningless in longing, because it can stop time and improvement, whilst the repetition of the environment emphasizes the repetition of life. Thus as we have seen, while the play sustains a funny shell, as it advances, the audience starts to feel sympathetic. The time that Vladimir and Estragon spent along was comedic, but after peeling aside this shell and revealing to us their consciousness, devoid of time, we will see naught but woeful anguish.
The comedy within Looking forward to Godot turns into tragedy at the occasion the audience comprehends the helplessness of Vladimir and Estragon. Unhappiness is one of the funniest things we as humans see, but at exactly the same time, it is despairing. Just how Pozzo treats Blessed is amusing, to both the reader and audience. Lucky is constantly jerked around by his rope and this exaggerated action creates humour, but at the same time, we forget the cruelty that is so obviously implied. It really is tragic how exactly we so quickly accepted this treatment, and as the play persists, giggle at it even more. This implies a part of Beckett's view of human being nature, that it is not until it becomes personal do we start caring about the tragic tones and implications.
Comedy has been suppressed by the tragic elements. The play becomes a tragedy imbued with tragedies. The tiny, easily found tragic happenings contribute to a greater, deeper despair. Such as Estragon suggesting loss of life as an escape. It is unfortunate to see one suggest such a thing, yet it is also funny because of the nonchalant light-hearted way he suggests it, as well as the conversation that ensues. Both tramps engage in meaningless, pointless activity to cross the time, looking forward to something that never comes. This absurdity is a simple source of tragedy. However, what is very tragic is the fact that in the long run, they cannot decide, to live on or expire and as a result of this hesitation, are permanently frozen in progress. This essentially shows their paralysis of time and continuity. Didi and Gogo are caught, day in day trip, looking forward to Godot to no avail. This act of ready is the very thing Beckett is trying to portray. It is only during lapses doing his thing, where our company is waiting, that we begin to realize the meaninglessness of everything we are doing. An overpowering sense of despair washes in the audience in this moment in time of realization, and all sense of humour is fully gone. All that is kept is a mixture of anxiety, dilemma, and hopelessness.