There are many issues of global concern in Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot. Beginning with the most basic, universal questions of human existence, the play’s themes extend to the dynamics of human relationships—both among humans and between humans and the environment. Waiting for Godot is often regarded...
There are many issues of global concern in Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot. Beginning with the most basic, universal questions of human existence, the play’s themes extend to the dynamics of human relationships—both among humans and between humans and the environment. Waiting for Godot is often regarded as one of the most significant works exploring existentialist philosophy.
Vladimir (Didi) and Estragon (Gogo) do not know why they are where they are. While they understand that they must wait for Godot, they do not know if they are in the right place, who Godot is, or why they are waiting. As they continue to seek answers to these mysteries, they also wonder if Godot exists; this in turn leads them to question their own existence.
While both of these main characters asks about their own situation, they are presented as a pair. It often seems that they are asking questions of themselves, while at other times they direct the questions to each other. These interchanges support the underlying idea that each cannot exist alone, because each man's presence requires verification from the other.
The limits of human perception are embodied by the character of Pozzo, who is blinded. Because he cannot see with his eyes, he must understand the universe through his other senses. His questions and behavior raise concerns about the qualities of human relationships. When Pozzo meets Didi and Gogo, he asks if they are friends. Gogo first interprets this as his wanting to know if the two of them are friends with each other. Then they understand that he wants to know if they are friends with him. His concerns for their friendship ring hollow, however, because Pozzo has been hostile and violent toward his companion, Lucky, calling him a “menial”; these contradictions lead the audience to question the cruelty people may inflict on those closest to them.
The play's setting—a bare landscape with a tree—raises ecological issues. The question of human existence and its relationship to nature is developed by their questions about the tree’s state of being. Because it has no leaves, Didi and Gogo are not sure it is even alive. During the course of the play, it grows leaves, and Gogo offers the opinion that “Everything's dead but the tree.” This passage implies that nature may outlast humans.