M.A English Part 2 Notes | Waiting For Godot Notes
Question : Waiting for Godot is a tragicomedy about interior life below spoken thought. Discuss.
"Waiting for Godot" is a tragic play but not in the traditional sense. Besides being tragic, it has a number of such comic elements that even Samuel Beckett himself called his playa tragic comedy. Moreover, assessing it deeply, it is far from Aristotle's definition of tragedy and far from Shakespearian conception of tragedy as well. It farts in creating any remorse on the audience or readers as the Shakespearian tragedies leave their impact. It can be called tragic in the sense because it stirs our imagination about the human predicament and human misery. With all these points in mind, "Waiting for Godot" can be 'called a tragic play, because it creates feeling of fear and pity Nearing the end, Vladimir says: "Habit is a great deadener," though with Estragon, they have to stay on the stage for more than ninety mjnutes to prove it. To avoid boredom, Estragon and Vladimir start telling stories, sing songs play verbal James, just to pretend to be Pozzo and Lucky. All these actions of theirs, affect the audience of boredom and cause saddening effects. Such dramatisation is not found in traditional tragedies. Moreover the play is devoid of any heroic performance, or misfortune. If at all there is any endurance that pertains to waiting, ignorance and helplessness.
On account of constant waiting for Godot, despair becomes a keynote to this tragic play, especially when Estragon says "Nothing to be done," when he fails to pull off his boots, and the same words are repeated by Vladimir Similarly on account of some nightmare of Estragon, which are told to Vladimir, they are not liked by him. Both the friends get disgusted to that extent that Estragon suggests in utter disappointment: "Let us hang ourselves immediately." This leads to our imagination, that they are facing some tragic implications. Their programme of committing suicide does not materialize, because the nearby tree does not have strong bough to help them in their hanging. All these tragic ideas cross their mind on account of utter disappointment and complete hopelessness in waiting for Godot.
These words "Waiting for Godot " occur so many times in the play that they create more depression. "The messenger boy, who brings in the message of Godot that he will come on the following day, but there is every likelihood that their waiting may be futile. The agony of waiting for Godot lessens when we think that. Godot may be a mythical human being (Jesus Christ), for whom the waiting may prove a frustrating experience.
In waiting for the mythical human being Estragon becomes so much hopeless that he utters: "Nothing happens, c nobody comes, nobody goes, it's awful." Similar types of tragic utterances are made by Vladimir. Such utterances further aggravate the tragic quality of this hopeless play, which cause anguish, and which may end up with catharsis bf our sentiments, as told by Aristotle.
From what has been said above, the "Waiting for Godot "seems to replete with tragic scenes'but at the same time abounds in comic situations as well as comic dialogues. Samuel Beckett has himself called this playa tragicomedy. But our critic has compared the two principal characters, Estragon and Vladimir with the famous Hollywood characters namely Laurel and Hardy. The two tramps also behave like them. For instance, the pulling pff the boots with extraordinary vigour by Estragon and Vladimir's effort in taking off his hat, peering inside it and after shaking, putting it on again looks quite funny and creates light humour.
Similarly the two tramps in Act II try different hats on their heads several times undoubtedly creates laughter. Some of the fun is caused in the play by other characters too,,especially when they stumble and fall down. All of them stagger on the stage doing various comic actions, e.g. Vladimir tries to help Estragon to put on his boots and while doing so, both of them stagger on the stage for couple of moments. The two tramps stagger again, when they try to "do the tree, for the balance." Even when Pozzo falls down, the tramps help him, but fall themselves, one after the other. So much so Vladimir tries to raise Pozzo on his feet, but fails, tries again, stumbles, falls, tries to get up but fails. All the three in this effort are seen in a heap on the ground and Vladimir ultimately announces heroically: "We are men." These amusing scenes create immense laughter and thus changes the tragic scenes into comic ones. Then there is an attempt to commit suicide.
Though such an attempt to commit suicide is a tragic action, but the way they make an abortive attempt due to the weak bough of the tree makes this entire scene quite funny and comic. Towards the end of the play Estragon suggests that they can bring a small rope on the following day, because the belt of Estragon is found too small for hanging purpose. Before the curtain-falls the two tramps announce their decision to depart but they keep on standing, the funny event, which amuses everybody.
The dialogues also make the audience hilarious when they listen the player's unconscious comic utterances. For instance, "when Vladimir addresses Estrogens " His Highness," spent the night, and he replies that he spent the night in the ditch, Similarly when two friends embrace each other, Estragon little-bit withdraws from Vladimir blaming him saying, "You stink of garlic," to which Vladimir replies that he takes garlic for his kidney. The play closes with the following dialogue:
Well? shall we go?
Pull on your trousers
What? Pull on your trousers
You want me to pull off my trousers.
Full out your trousers.
Well? shall we go?
Yes, let's go (they do not move).