How does Macbeth by Shakespeare and Waiting for Godot by Beckett & Oedipus the king offer social criticism of the societies they depict?If you look at Macbeth, Waiting for Godot & Oedipus...

How does Macbeth by Shakespeare and Waiting for Godot by Beckett & Oedipus the king offer social criticism of the societies they depict?

If you look at Macbeth, Waiting for Godot & Oedipus the king how do they offer social criticism?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In each drama, there is criticism offered for not only the specific social context in which the play is written, but for all such contexts.  Shakespeare's drama is one of the most pointed in bringing out the dangerous side to ambition, and the desire to appropriate the world in accordance to one's own subjectivity.  The moral depravity and abyss that accompanies Macbeth is one that brings a new light to any particular quest that is steeped in misguided ambition.  For Oedipus, the forceful and vociferous nature in which he seeks to use his freedom in the hopes of overcoming his fated destiny is something that brings a great deal of light to the potential limitations of freedom.  Oedipus believes that his autonomy and freedom have no limits and can transcend just about anything, a lesson painfully learned at the play's end.  Beckett's condition of moral paralysis and "waiting" that impacts his characters seems to be as large of a statement.  As opposed to Oedipus and Macbeth who learn the constraints of their actions, Vladimir and Estragon are plagued by a lack of action, a type of paralysis that is caused by their waiting, their belief in some external salvation or totalizing force that will absolve them from having to take action.  In the end, they are left with only that: Waiting for something that is not going to be there at that evening, but might be there the next night.  Forever doomed to paralysis in the name of waiting, the lack of action is in stark opposition to the previous two plays where freedom accompanies painful ends.

dixon349 | Student

The two main characters in Waiting for Godot represent humankind waiting for God to answer their prayers. Beckett's play makes several commentaries on society, but the one that resonates the most with me is the questioning of why individuals are willing to be blind followers instead of taking action with and/or in their lives.

The two guys "waiting" do the same thing every day, in spite of the fact that they have interactions with outsiders, which should prompt them to think or act differently. It reminds me of an old adage that criticizes teenagers who want to be like their friends. Their parents ask: "If so-and-so leaped off a bridge, would you jump, too?"

Beckett admires individualists and critical thinkers, neither of which the "waiters" are. He uses their storyline to show how ridiculous one's life can become without "thinking hard."