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Waiting for Godot

by Samuel Beckett

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Analyze the metaphysical anguish expressed in Waiting for Godot.

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There are three aspects to the existential Angst: anguish, forlornness, and despair.  Beckett, trying to “eff the ineffable,” has found a way to “imitate the action” of our own forlornness (the feeling of having been abandoned), by presenting a stage depiction of “waiting”—for meaning, for direction, for purpose.  He has written a “play in which nothing happens, twice.”  The human consciousness, too, waits for meaning and purpose, as we live through the eternally present.  In the play, much is made of the inability of Gogo and Didi to distinguish one day from the next, one beating from the next, one expectation from the next.  The line quoted in the question is an existential cry of anguish, where the pain of waiting, for change, for direction, becomes unbearable.  To existentialist thinking, there is pain, anguish, in purposelessness; the despair is depicted (“imitated”, in Aristotle’s vocabulary, “an imitation of an action”) by the feeble talk of suicide, by the discussion of giving up, and ultimately, by the entrance of Pozzo and Lucky, who, having despaired of direction in their wandering, have attached themselves to each other as the only connection available to the senses (and the blindness and lameness and falling down, etc. all speak to the inability of our human awareness of the
”other” to give order and meaning to our day-to-day activities--stool, rope, etc. all emblematic of the physical world—and Lucky’s “thinking” speech encapsulates the hopelessness of language to straighten out the mess of “meaningless” life-activity.  Somehow, Beckett has succeeded in imitating the action of our own existence, in which “nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful!”

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