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Waiting For Godot – As An Absurd Play
Beckett is considered to be an important figure among the French Absurdists. “Waiting for Godot” is one of the masterpieces of Absurdist literature. Elements of Absurdity for making this play are so engaging and lively. Beckett combats the traditional notions of Time. It attacks the two main ingredients of the traditional views of Time, i.e. Habit and Memory. We find Estragon in the main story and Pozzo in the episode, combating the conventional notions of Time and Memory. For Pozzo, particularly, one day is just like another, the day we are born indistinguishable from the day we shall die.
It is very clear from the very word “Absurd” that it means nonsensical, opposed to reason, something silly, foolish, senseless, ridiculous and topsy-turvy. So, a drama having a cock and bull story would be called an absurd play. Moreover, a play having loosely constructed plot, unrecognizable characters, metaphysical called an absurd play. Actually the ‘Absurd Theatre’ believes that humanity’s plight is purposeless in an existence, which is out of harmony with its surroundings.
This thing i.e. the awareness about the lack of purpose produces a state of metaphysical anguish which is the central theme of the Absurd Theatre. On an absurd play logical construction, rational ideas and intellectually viable arguments are abandoned and instead of these the irrationality for experience is acted out on the stage.
The above mentioned discussion allows us to call “Waiting for Godot” as an absurd play for not only its plot is loose but its characters are also just mechanical puppets with their incoherent colloquy. And above than all, its theme is unexplained. “Waiting for Godot” is an absurd play for it is devoid of characterization and motivation. Though characters are present but are not recognizable for whatever they do and whatever they present is purposeless. So far as its dialogue technique is concerned, it is purely absurd as there is no witty repartee and pointed dialogue. What a reader or spectator hears is simply the incoherent babbling which does not have any clear and meaningful ideas. So far as the action and theme is concerned, it kisses the level of Absurd Theatre. After the study of this play we come to know that nothing special happens in the play nor we observe any significant change in setting. Though a change occurs but it is only that now the tree has sprouted out four or five leaves.
“Nothing happens, nobody comes … nobody goes, it’s awful!”
The beginning, middle and end of the play do not rise up to the level of a good play, so absurd. Though its theme is logical and rational yet it lies in umbrage.
Moreover, “Waiting for Godot” can also be regarded as an absurd play because it is different from “poetic theatre”. Neither it makes a considerable use of dream and fantasy nor does it employ conscious poetic language. The situation almost remains unchanged and an enigmatic vein runs throughout the play. The mixture of comedy and near tragedy proves baffling. In act-I we are not sure as to what attitude we should adopt towards the different phases of its non-action. The ways, of which the two tramps pass their time, seems as if they were passing their lives in a transparent deception. Godot remains a mystery and curiosity still holds a sway. Here we know that their endless waiting seems to be absurd. Though the fact is that they are conscious of this absurdity, yet is seems to imply that the rest of the world is waiting for the things, which are more absurd and also uncertain.
“Waiting for Godot” is an absurd play for there is no female character. Characters are there but they are devoid of identity. These two Estragon and Vladimir are old acquaintances, but they are not sure of their identity. Though they breathe, their life is an endless rain of blows. They wait for the ultimate extinction, but in a frustrated way. This thing produces meaninglessness, thus makes the play absurd.
Moreover, what makes the play absurd is its ending. We note that the ending of the play is not a conclusion in the usual sense. The wait continues; the human contacts remain unsolved; the problem of existence remains meaningless, futile and purposeless. The conversation between the two tramps remain a jargon, really a humbug and bunkum speech. So all this makes the play an absurd play.
Absurd Theatre is a term applies to a group of dramatist in the 1950’s. Martin Esslin was the first to use this term ‘Absurd’ in his book “The Theatre of the Absurd”. Eugene Lonesco, Arthur Admor, Harold Pinter and Jean Garret are the writers who belong to this category.