“We always find something, eh Didi, to give us the impression we exist?”-Samuel Beckett
In Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Beckett strays away from conventional dramatic action by using “waiting” as the main source of action in his play, to show how the absurdity of the post world war 2 era left many in a state of anxiety and hopelessness, with the only option to wait for a change. Beckett then questions the purpose of human existence, by using characters in his play who seek to find a source of hope who can bring meaning to their lives.
In act 1, the characters, Vladimir and Estragon make an attempt to understand the world by continuing to wait for the figure, Godot who they believe can save them from their current state. They begin their dialogue with the words, “Nothing to be done.” Beckett is emphasizing that from the beginning of the play, the characters could not do anything to change their predicament, so they wait, wait for Godot. Vladimir and Estragon do attempt to commit suicide but they are not able to do it. Perhaps they do not want to miss Godot’s visit? Although the characters perform certain activities to pass time while they wait, these activities do not progress the plot or provide answers to the state of anxiety the characters are in. Could Beckett be indicating that time itself is meaningless?
Towards the end of act 1, the process of waiting continues to repeat while the characters, Vladimir and Estragon struggle to remember events that occured in their past. Beckett uses their inability to remeber their past to show that nothing has changed in the character’s lives, nothing new, nothing different. Lucky is a character who continues to hold his bags, showing that he is ready for Godot’s arrival. Estragon repeatedly questions Vladimir why Lucky doesn’t put down his bags? Beckett is using the character Lucky as a symbol of hope, Lucky is hoping Godot will come. At the end of act 1, however, Lucky puts down his bags. Beckett is emphasizing a loss of hope. Is Lucky tired of waiting? Are the characters losing hope that a savior will save them?
At the end of act 1, Vladimir and Estragon make the decison to leave but they do not act upon their decison. Beckett is showing that regardless of their desire to make a change in life, sometimes waiting is the only option. Beckett’s main message then is that as human beings, when we are faced with social anxieties in life, we may feel like a stranger in our own home, we may struggle to find where we belong or question what is the purpose of life? But we always have the option to wait, even when we feel that nothing can be done.