Comment on the title Waiting for Godot. (within 500 words)

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The idea of "waiting" is an extremely potent concept both in the play and in its statement on human consciousness.  There is an inherent danger in trying to over-analyze anything that Beckett writers, but I think that it is fair to suggest that the concept of "waiting" is one that indicates that individuals, even with their freedom and autonomy in the modern setting, are condemned to paralysis of action in the name of "waiting."  The idea of the modern setting containing only freedom and autonomy helps to bring forth a positive vision and a connotation which indicates a sense of redemption present.  Beckett might be trying to bring out its negative opposite.  To paraphrase Constant, "What if, with our spirit of independence and action, we do exactly what we don't want to do?"  This can apply to Beckett in the idea that what if our freedom and action still results in the lack of action or paralysis in the hopes of "waiting" for some entity to provide the answers that we seek, or that we cannot determine?  The notion of waiting in this sense might be more of a statement on how futile freedom might be in this sense.

kc4u | Student

There are two operative expressions in Beckett's title

1. Waiting--the play is about an act of waiting. Didi and Gogo wait for their unknown salvation-damnation-man in the name of Mr. Godot. This waiting is an act of prayer, a dynamics of desire, where the object of desire as it is supposed to be, is obscure and absent. This act of waiting is also waiting for the encounter with an other that will found the subjectivity of the two tramps. The waiting in Beckett is a matter of stoic compulsion. It is a pure act, which has to be done for its own sake. Even though the two tramps know that Godot will never come, they have to wait. This waiting signifies life in all its meaning-making terms.

2. Godot--Godot is conventionally seen as a differential word-play on God with a certain kind of Frenchified spelling. But it is important to note that Beckett does not use the French synonym of God, which is 'Dieu' but rather plays on its English counterpart. Whether a symbol of divinity or not, Godot is a signifier nevertheless--a proper name, even a signature. There is no signified for it. Instead of trying to read Godot symbolically and trying to find out if it represents God or the meaning of life or a political master, or a patronymic, going by Beckett's own notion of the symbol which always emphasizes on the objectness of the object than on its symbolic import, what director Peter Brook calls a "pure symbol", I think we should see Godot as a seductive but hollow symbol which, once investigated, returns to its self-reflexivity. Thus, Godot symbolizes Godot only and nothing more, nothing less.