The Hidden Meaning Behind the Willow Tree and Godet

Upon reading Waiting for Godet by Samuel Beckett, I became astonished by all of the Biblical allusions that were referenced. As such, I naturally sought to draw connections with these references and the plot. There are two spiritual emblems that I believe ties into the theme of existential crisis in this play: the willow tree and Godet. I am of the belief that Beckett uses the willow tree to question the existence of a higher deity – who is supposed to protect, care, and deliver human beings. In some cultures, the willow tree is the symbol of life. Its long vertical leaves and branches, symbolize nature, fertility, and life. The way that its leaves and branches sway gracefully in the wind is normally associated with balance, growth, and harmony. Also, its strong, tall and sturdy trunk represents the strength, stability and structure that is needed to stand firm and withstand the greatest of challenges. Hence, it can be said that the willow tree has the characteristics of a spiritual leader since it represents life, growth and strength. In Waiting for Godet, though, the willow tree is portrayed as being this old, hollow, and dying thing. The leaves are dying and dropping off, the trunk and branches are in the process of withering away, and the characters contemplate on using this tree to commit suicide. Consequently, Beckett might be using the willow tree to make a commentary on the lack of spirituality that people have after the war. He also might be using this tree to question whether or not there really is a higher being who is concerned with human’s well-being.

A Visual of a Willow Tree 

The idea of the willow tree being connected to spirituality is also found in Celtic tradition. To the Celtics, the willow tree has a long history of symbolism associated with metaphysical and ritual practices. Specifically, the willow wood has been (and still is) used in ceremonies intended for enhancement of psychic abilities, honoring the moon as well as increase the essence of love in our lives. Consequently, since the wood in this tree is rotten to the point that it may or may not be able to sustain the weight of human being, Beckett makes a commentary on the breakdown of spirituality after the war. Is it possible that religion did not provide any sustenance for people after the war? Could it be that after the war people abandoned religious faith? Or is Beckett raising looming questions about the existence of a heavenly Father?

This questioning about the existence of a supreme divinity can also be seen in Beckett’s presentation (or lack of presentation) of Godet, a character whose name literally spells “God”. In hope Vladimir and Estragon wait for Godet, a mythical character, to perhaps carry them off into a magical paradisiac land. However, he never shows up. The fact, the Godet never shows up can be representative of the fact that there is/was no deliverance for people after the World War II, they just suffered and conditions got worst. Hence, there is a possibility that Beckett is saying that there is no deliverer.

Overall, I believe that through the illustration of the willow and the reference to Godet, Beckett  questions the existence of a higher being or deity.


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