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Waiting for Godot

by Samuel Beckett

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Explain the significance of the title Waiting for Godot.

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In Samuel Beckett's absurdist classic Waiting for Godot, the title character of Godot never appears. Vladimir and Estragon, the two main characters, wait for Godot throughout the duration of the play, and the audience waits alongside them for a situation that never materializes.

The title of the play is interesting because it tells the audience exactly what to expect from their experience as an audience member, in a literal sense. In traditional works of literature that contain a developed and coherent plot line, the act of waiting implies an arrival of some sort; in the theatre of the absurd, such an arrival is not at all a guarantee. Audience members not only witness the futility of waiting, they also experience the emptiness of such unrewarded anticipation.

Scholars have debated the meaning of the name "Godot," and many believe it to denote God. If this meaning is true, then the act of waiting for Godot can be compared to the act of waiting to see God, an act of faith for many Christians who believe seeing God is the reward for a life well-lived according to Christian principles.

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The significance of the title of the play Waiting for Godot is in the futility of waiting for someone who never makes an appearance. The play in two acts is merely a play on the melancholy of daily life and the insanity of waiting for Godot (him or her, the play never says) even when the two main characters are informed that Godot is not coming.

The two main characters in the play are portrayed as tramps who have nowhere to go and nothing to do. While the messenger boy brings the tramps a message that Godot cannot come, the tramps continue to wait. Scholars have stated that one way to interpret Waiting for Godot is as an allegory of the futility of Christians who wait for God to change their lives rather than working for change themselves.

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