Waiting for Godot

Language, Consciousness and Experience in Waiting for Godot and Ulysses

Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot and James Joyce's Ulysses are strikingly similar in style, content, and most significantly a philosophy of life. The idea of language as doubly futile and liberating is central to both works. It is found in the playfulness of language in Beckett's dialogue and Joyce's description. Every aspect of each form is carefully utilized in communicating this point. Language is only one institution among many that control and confine the individual. But its many flaws and contributions to our lives can represent a larger realm of meaning. Both works strive consistently to define, however subtly or indirectly, the meaning of life and the self. Like language, consciousness and experience are factors in the frustrations of existence, and therefore central to both works.

In both works, experience is reduced to its simplest meaning, its briefest form. This can be seen in the setting and dialogue in Beckett's play and Joyce's attention to extreme detail in each moment of one day. Beckett reduces the setting of his play to simply "A country road. A tree. Evening." (Beckett, 1) And Joyce's stream-of-consciousness style of writing inside of Leopold Bloom's head piles...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 931 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7469 literature essays, 2113 sample college application essays, 310 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in