Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Waiting for Godot book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Why is the play Waiting for Godot an example of 'The Theatre of the Absurd'?

Expert Answers info

accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write13,728 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

What makes this play a classic example of the Theatre of the Absurd is the way in which the play consists of nothing more than Estragon and Vladimir waiting for Godot to arrive. The term, Theatre of the Absurd, refers to an unyielding and grim picture of what it is to be human but also the style in which that vision is presented. Plays that exemplify the Theatre of the Absurd present life as essentially meaningless and void of purpose and also suggest that humans inhabit an environment that is either profoundly indifferent to them or outright hostile to their presence. For Beckett, such messages needed to be accompanied by a literary style that complemented such a pessimistic view of life. The expression of such themes had to be absurd and to highlight those central tenets of absurdism. Consider how this is expressed in this play through, for example, Lucky's monologue in Act I when he talks for two pages of text with such speech as this:

I resume alas alas on on in short in fine on on abode of stones who can doubt it I resume but not so fast I resume the skull to shrink.

The audience is enabled to enter an absurd world as simple expectations of a play--plot, characters, dialogue that can be easily understood--are removed from the audience. This is the central quality that makes this play such an excellent example of the Theatre of the Absurd.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial