Christian Themes (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
Although Beckett claimed he was not a Christian, the quest for salvation is the cornerstone of the play and frequent Christian allusions serve as its subtext. However, in Waiting for Godot, these allusions serve not to assert belief, but to dramatize its decadence. Once Christianity provided Western civilization with a construct of meaning and hope, but now, decimated by the horrors of two world wars and the deconstruction of reality and meaning in modern philosophy, it is no longer credible. Because the characters no longer believe in Christianity or in anything, they are helpless and alone in a meaningless universe. Yet because the language and values of Christianity are the only ones they know, it serves them as a point of reference for their urgent need to find meaning and purpose. Thus, Estragon compares himself to Christ as the model for his own suffering. Waiting for the mysterious Godot can be understood as humankind waiting for redemption from an otherwise unbearable life. Although Beckett strenuously denied that Godot was God, in Waiting for Godot, as the object of the characters’ ultimate longings and their hope for salvation, he serves a similar function as God. In act 1, Vladimir and Estragon speak of addressing Godot with a kind of prayer. At the end of act 2, the boy-messenger—a possible allusion to Christ—describes him as an old man with a white beard. This description evokes from Vladimir the plaintive cry, “Christ have...
(The entire section is 431 words.)
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