How does Waiting for Godot demonstrate the qualities of Theatre of the Absurd?

Expert Answers
parkerlee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The freeflowing, non-directional and often incomprehensible dialogue of Vladimir and Estragon portrays a principle element of the Theatre of the Absurb - namely, the pathetic non-sense of the human condition and the futility of even trying to make 'rhyme or reason' out of existence at all:

'...the issues of absurdity, alienation and loneliness, appearance and reality, death, doubt and ambiguity, time, the meaning of life, language and meaning, and the search for self. But one theme that encompasses many of these at once is the question of the human condition—who are we as humans and what is our short life on this planet really like?'

The incapacity of man to decipher the meaning of life is also shown in the comical, almost burlesque hat-swapping of the actors "all dressed up but no place to go":

'We appear to be born without much awareness of our selves or our environment and as we mature to gradually acquire from the world around us a sense of identity and a concept of the universe. However, the concept of human life that we generally acquire may be fraught with illusions.'

In a pathetic, even morbidly humoristic way, the two bums which finally do arrive on stage offer no solace to Vladimir and Estragon but only frustrate their need for  "something to happen" even more. Bert Lahr, an actor cast in the role of Estragon, gave his own interpretation:

"The play is very complex and has many analyses. But mine is as good as the rest. The two men are practically one—one is the animal side, the other the mental. I was the animal. So far as Pozzo and Lucky [master and slave] are concerned, we have to remember that Beckett was a disciple of Joyce and that Joyce hated England. Beckett meant Pozzo to be England, and Lucky to be Ireland."

As for the eternally waited-for Godot, He never arrives (simply because 'he' is not...)The antipode of the self-exaltation of Romantic literature, the Theatre of the Absurb pulls man off his pedestal and asks some serious rhetorical questions for which there is no answer....

(Quotes are taken from the enote references cited below.)