Illustrate the way Samuels Beckett's Waiting for Godot has the typical characteristic of an absurd play

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot reunites the most salient characteristics of the genre of the theater of the absurd in that it features the following essential elements:

a. A lack of plot- The play seems not to have a beginning, middle, and end as well-defined as aclassical or typical theatrical piece. When the play begins we do not know where Vladimir and Estragon come from. All know is that they are sitting "at a country road", and that, at one point Vladimir says in Act I

Hand in hand from the top of the Eiffel Tower, among the first. We were respectable in those days. Now it's too late. They wouldn't even let us up.

From that information we get very little more. That, and the fact that Estragon had been beaten up by some people for reasons also unknown.  What makes this even more absurd is: We never really get to find out. Nor do we get to see Godot. He never shows up. There is no clear ending.

b. A disdain for life, and a surrender to fate- The theater of the absurd illustrates the philosophy of existentialism as proposed by Camus and Sartre, among many others. In this philosophy human life is seen as a weakness. Life is not that important. We are just like the wind, floating as we go. Similarly, the language, dialogue and use of description in these types of plays will show this affect throughout the development of the plot. An example is when Estragon says of people:

People are bloody ignorant apes.

This he says, as he questions with Vladimir some random passages of the Bible.

c. The theater of the absurd will present situations that hint at black humor and, in the case of this particular play, even mockery of what is considered "normal". Pozzo and Lucky represent the master and servant dynamics between the rich and the poor. Pozzo's abuse of power seems to serve as a pun for a joke in the play, and Lucky's desperate situation places him in the position of whipping boy. All this is, as the genre is, absurd, and it is consistently displayed in the play.

Therefore, there are several ways to broadly detail how this play represents the theater of the absurd. These three are just the most essential characteristics of this type of theatrical piece.

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Waiting for Godot

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