Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

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"Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it's awful!" Analyze the sense of metaphysical anguish expressed in Waiting for Godot.

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There are three aspects to the existential Angst: anguish, forlornness, and despair.  Beckett, trying to “eff the ineffable,” has found a way to “imitate the action” of our own forlornness (the feeling of having been abandoned), by presenting a stage depiction of “waiting”—for meaning, for direction, for purpose.  He has written a “play in which nothing happens, twice.”  The human consciousness, too, waits for meaning and purpose, as we live through the eternally present.  In the play, much is made of the inability of Gogo and Didi to distinguish one day from the next, one beating from the next, one expectation from the next.  The line quoted in the question is an existential cry of anguish, where the pain of waiting, for change, for direction, becomes unbearable.  To existentialist thinking, there is pain, anguish, in purposelessness; the despair is depicted (“imitated”, in Aristotle’s vocabulary, “an imitation of an action”) by the feeble talk of suicide, by the discussion of giving up, and ultimately, by the entrance of Pozzo and Lucky, who, having despaired of direction in their wandering, have attached themselves to each other as the only connection available to the senses (and the blindness and lameness and falling down, etc. all speak to the inability of our human awareness of the
”other” to give order and meaning to our day-to-day activities--stool, rope, etc. all emblematic of the physical world—and Lucky’s “thinking” speech encapsulates the hopelessness of language to straighten out the mess of “meaningless” life-activity.  Somehow, Beckett has succeeded in imitating the action of our own existence, in which “nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful!”

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The special beauty of this line is that it is a wickedly funny projection of what the audience is experiencing. When staged, it is thoroughly plausible that Estragon would deliver this line directly to the audience. Such an approach is consistent with the theatricality of the play, Beckett's constant reminder that life itself is a performance. Pozzo and Lucky play the role of master/slave to the hilt. Pozzo is unable to sit down unless he is asked to do so. The characters are all locked into relationships which define their identity.

In delivering this line, Estragon is acknowledging how bored the audience must be. But in fact, Beckett's brilliance is that he has written a play about boredom that never fails to engage the reader/audience. If an audience member is experiencing despair, anguish or forlornness, they do so not because this is what the characters express, but out of their own individual reaction to the action and dialogue which is continually engaging, in spite of nothing "happening".

In receiving the line, the careful reader/observer will have to take into account that the play is filled with humor and romance as much as it is angst and despair. Suicide--"hand in hand from the Eiffel Tower" carries with it an air of intimacy, the vaudevillian antics of Gogo and Lucky underscore how the lines between laughter and tears are virtually invisible. Rather than positioning the audience to absorb a point of view, Beckett, like all great artists, simply provides the stimulus. The line is pointing as much to the need for each individual to take responsibility for her choices as it is signalling a closed universe where hopelessness reigns.