In Waiting for Godot, Beckett is speaking of a "cosmic state" a world condition in which all humanity is involved." Discuss.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The "cosmic state" of which Beckett speaks in Waiting For Godot is the paralysis caused by waiting.  In the play, the tramps, Vladimir and Estragon, represent the modern human being.  They represent this through their speech, their language, their expressions, their emotions, their wants, their loves, their habits, their foibles, and their identities.  However, Beckett seems to be making the point that their paralysis is what ends up defining them even more.  They continue to wait for Godot, sometimes hoping, other times cursing, but all the time is spent waiting.  They wait and wait, threatening to leave, doing little else but staying.  Yet, when they are told by the boy that Godot will not be coming, but maybe tomorrow, they wait some more.  Their claims of independence and autonomy are negated by their paralysis of action.  With this the play closes and we are left to presume they will wait.  When asked what his play means, Beckett answered:  "It's one word:  Symbiosis."  This cryptic answer might be the "cosmic state" of which you speak.  We are the tramps, ourselves.  When we wait for our own "Monsieur Godots" in the form of job, money, retirement, marriage, children, car, house, membership in the elite echelons of society, our own sense of "waiting," and of its ensuing paralysis, prevents us from doing what we can in this life to minimize the suffering others feel, to widen our scope of compassion in assisting others and taking action to make our world and, perhaps, someone else's a little less like hell on Earth.  The characters in this play wait and wait for something that will presumably never arrive.  In this exercise of "symbiosis," our cosmic state is one where all humanity waits for something to happen, as opposed to taking action and assisting others ourselves.  "There is struggle in Darfur?  Someone will take care of it, let's wait.  There is struggle in Kashmir?  Someone will take care of it, let's wait.  There is a child orphaned?  Someone will take care of it, let's wait." These situations paralyze us from action, and in this symbiotic understanding, we, ourselves, are the tramps; immersed in a cosmic state that we criticize on stage, but live out in the audience.

Read the study guide:
Waiting for Godot

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question