illustrated portrait of Irish novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beckett

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Treatment of friendship in Waiting for Godot.

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Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot is widely considered as a bleak absurdist commentary on grim themes like isolation and futility. Friendship is treated as a respite from the bleakness, as a bit of comfort in the penetrating isolation that afflicts all humans, and as suggestive of meaning, even when friendly gestures are futile in their impermanence.

The relationship between Vladimir and Estragon, who are friends, contrasts starkly with the master and servant connection between Pozzo and Lucky. The rope around Lucky's neck represents the emotional shackles that all humans experience when faced with relationships that are beyond their control, while the dull conversations and mundane activities that characterize Vladimir and Estragon's interactions hint at a comfortable familiarity, even when their talk grows very dark and depressing.

Different audience members will react differently to the ways in which friendship is treated in Waiting for Godot, depending on their own experiences with other people, past and current. Some viewers may find a tenderness in Estragon's suggestion that he and Vladimir hang themselves together, while others might find the idea repellent, distasteful and indicative of a pathological pessimism; after all, individual definitions of friendship and descriptions of what makes a true friend vary from individual to individual. Thanks to the uniquely personal nature of friendships, Vladimir and Estragon's friendship is up to interpretation, making it a theme to be treated carefully and with thoughtful consideration of the points of view of both the playwright and the audience member.

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