Waiting for Godot

Related works

  • Racine's Bérénice is a play "in which nothing happens for five acts."[117] In the preface to this play Racine writes: "All creativity consists in making something out of nothing." Beckett was an avid scholar of the 17th century playwright and lectured on him during his time at Trinity. "Essential to the static quality of a Racine play is the pairing of characters to talk at length to each other."[47]
  • The title character of Balzac's 1851 play Mercadet is waiting for financial salvation from his never-seen business partner, Godeau. Although Beckett was familiar with Balzac's prose, he insisted that he learned of the play after finishing Waiting for Godot. Coincidentally, in 1949, Balzac's play was closely adapted to film as The Lovable Cheat (starring Buster Keaton, whom Beckett greatly admired).
  • Maurice Maeterlinck wrote The Blind in 1894 about a group of blind people who are stranded in the woods on an island outing when their guide, a priest, dies suddenly. For a while, no one knows that the priest has died or that his body is only several feet away from them. They all sit and wait for his return. When his body is discovered, the people become panicky and argumentative and fearful about how they will ever return to their hospital. With the death of 'the father' the play can also be read as a fable of a society lost without a God to guide them and care for them.
  • The unity of place, the particular site on the edge of a marsh which the two tramps cannot leave, recalls Sartre's striking use of the unity of place in his 1944 play, No Exit. There it is hell in the appearance of a Second Empire living room that the three characters cannot leave. The curtain line of each play underscores the unity of place, the setting of which is prison. The Let's go! of Godot corresponds to the Well, well, let's get on with it....! of No Exit. Sartre's hell is projected by use of some of the quid pro quos of a bedroom farce, whereas the unnamed plateau – the platter Didi and Gogo are served up on in the French version – evokes an empty vaudeville stage.
  • Many critics regard the protagonists in Beckett's novel Mercier and Camier as prototypes of Vladimir and Estragon. "If you want to find the origins of Godot," he told Colin Duckworth once, "look at Murphy."[118] Here we see the agonised protagonist yearning for self-knowledge, or at least complete freedom of thought at any cost, and the dichotomy and interaction of mind and body. It is also a book that dwells on mental illness something that affects all the characters in Godot. In defence of the critics, Mercier and Camier wander aimlessly about a boggy, rain-soaked island that, although not explicitly named, is Beckett's native Ireland. They speak convoluted dialogues similar to Vladimir and Estragon's, joke about the weather and chat in pubs, while the purpose of their odyssey is never made clear. The waiting in Godot is the wandering of the novel. "There are large chunks of dialogue which he later transferred directly into Godot."[119]
  • Waiting for Godot has been compared – thematically and stylistically – with Tom Stoppard's 1966 play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Parallels include two central characters who – at times – appear to be aspects of a single character and whose lives are dependent on outside forces over which they have little control. There are also plot parallels, the act of waiting as a significant element of the play, during the waiting, the characters pass time by playing Questions, impersonating other characters, at times repeatedly interrupting each other while at other times remaining silent for long periods.[120]

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