The Process of Waiting, the Questions that Arise in Waiting and What it Does to the Human Soul

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett intensely frustrates and depresses its readers via the despair, hopelessness and incongruity of its characters. There are so many common subtleties of hopelessness throughout the play, where, characters express modernistic/existentialist feelings and values, by questioning the purpose of life; and hypothesizing the way people would perhaps live when residing in extreme situations of war, poverty and violence, and very few opportunities are afforded to them. It also conveys the relationship humans have with divinity and savior-like figures and how that relationship impacts their mobility, psyche, physical and social relationships.

The plot of the play is said to be non-existent; however, in necessity to pinpoint one can say that every character is perpetually waiting for Godot and the plot centers around this waiting, moving in a circular motion around the wait. Also, so many underlying feelings and ideas are developed as these characters wait for Godot. For example, although the actual action is done, we see the hopeless despair of the two main characters, Estragon and Vladimir, when Estragon asks if, while waiting, they should hang themselves. A reader’s first few reactions to this may be to immediately asses that these characters hanging themselves would make their previous waiting purposeless; or that it makes no sense to hang themselves -and thus die- while waiting because one cannot wait for anything in death (except perhaps judgement). Moreover, if Estragon and Vladimir hung themselves they would never know if Godot came; and if he came they would not be able to go with him. Thus, all of the waiting they did would be in vain.

Still, readers could peel back other layers of this suggestion (to hang themselves) and Vladimir’s reaction to it – to immediately assess how they’ll do it- and see several other things concerning the emotional and psychological state of these two characters. Also, it’s weird that they’re simultaneously in agreeance and confliction with each other on this (hanging themselves) and other issues (e.g. their waiting for Godot). In this instance, for example, that Estragon’s idea to “pass the time” through death, shows how hopeless, burdensome and frustrating it is for them continuously waiting for Godot; especially when the idea of passing time doesn’t really give to (as a result ion or appropriate action) death. Then, for Vladimir to accept this idea mirrors, or emphasizes, this feeling of hopelessness and despair that comes with perpetual stagnation; which, seeps off of the page into the heart of the reader.

Nonetheless, we see a kind of hope, determination and resilience in the fact that the pair decide not to hang themselves, and continue to wait for Godot. By doing so they are holding on to this very minuscule, single shred of hope, even in this and other moments of extreme hopelessness, and despair. This shows a certain level of strength that is hard to understand because it doesn’t seem to have a basis or make much sense, thus leading the reader to question “why”. This play never gives us an answer to all of the “why” questions readers stumble across-Why kill themselves? Why not kill themselves? Why wait for Godot? Why not go looking for him? Why not do anything else but wait? Why is their only other option to hang themselves or die waiting? why don’t they move on their own? Why they are so blind to other possibilities? And I think these questions that readers are often forced to ask themselves why reading this play really stresses them to the point of hopeless frustration that these characters also seem to feel in their waiting. It is perhaps the same frustration that results in people screaming at idiot teens in horror films; yet, instead of screaming at the screen “Don’t go there” readers of Waiting for Godot scream “Move! Do Something!”. This then leads to perhaps the most important question of the play, and life in general, this very abstract question of hope and hopelessness: what we do when we waiting for Godot, and if is something expected of us to do in the process of waiting.


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