Why does Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot appeal to us even today?thanks

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Part of the reason Waiting for Godot has a contemporary appeal is because there is much within the play that speaks to the modern condition. The tramps both have plenty of factual knowledge and information, and can articulate their views quite clearly, yet there is still a hollowness that enables their paralysis, their condition of waiting, to take hold of them.  This has modern reflections as the preponderance and capabilities of information technology has empowered human beings to know more facts and collect more data.  Yet, this has not removed the sense of paralysis that is still present today for there is still a sense of "waiting," that effectively prevent action from being taken.  Senseless slaughter and cruelty still abound (truly absurd in the definition of the theatre) and yet, paralysis is still evident.  Leaders and politicians are afraid of taking action and collect opinion polls and data research before doing anything and, sometimes, use these resources as a way to not doing anything. They "wait."   Citizens know this and still let this happen.  They, too, "wait."  It is absurd to think that this is the modern condition, but it is.   There is "waiting" to act in Darfur, and there is "waiting" to stop Chinese oppression of minority groups.  There is "waiting" to act in stopping drug trafficking, and there is "waiting" to stop the violence with guns that happens daily on street corners all over the world.  Indeed, the concept of paralysis, inaction, and "waiting" is still present.

When the audience sees this sense of paralysis exhibited on stage, when reasonable and intelligent people are prevented from taking action, there is a sense of being able to say, "That's on stage and that's not me." " However, we know that Beckett wrote his play with "symbiosis" in mind, that there was meant to be a connection between the characters' predicament and something in our own.  This notion of "symbiosis" and the ability to sense something that is happening on our stage to something in our own lives is a critical element in the play.  It is this "symbiosis" that provides modern appeal.

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