Symbols & Imagery By: Brittany Camara & Natalie Doan
One of the most common interpretation of this novel is in the religious point of view; through the relationship between Godot, Vladimir and Estragon. Godot represents God Vladimir and Estragon represents the entire human race.
In the biblical sense many assumptions can be made that Beckett chose Godot to represent God. However, Beckett said that if he meant for Godot to represent God, he would have said so in the play. There are many allusions in the symbols and themes, that leads people to the conclusion that this book is based on a catholic point of view. Vladimir points out to Estragon the story about the two thieves that were on both side of Jesus while he was dying on the cross. Vladimir questions why we chose to believe one story over the three other versions of the same story, “But all four were there. And only one speaks of the thief being saved. Why believe him rather than the others” (Beckett, 9). Demonstrates how our reality is flawed. What humans believe to be true, is just one perspective. Humans chose to ignore and rule out the other many versions of the truth, so that we can all see things in unison.
The setting of the play is set by simply saying “A country Road. A tree. Evening”. Creates the atmosphere of that the human life has no clear beginning, and like the road there is no clear end. We know nothing about how Vladimir and Estragon got to the road, and nothing about their past. All we know is that they are here at this road waiting for something to happen. Suggests that it is due to the humans condition that we have an endless search, waiting, and a personal journey for ourselves (Bugliani, 2011). It is the way things have to be, because we are put on this earth in the role as humans. We have no clear sense of purpose.
The mysterious man which Vladimir and Estragon are waiting for. They do not really know who he is, they never even met him; but they do know that they want something from him. Vladimir says that they asked him for “Nothing very definite”, Estragon continues saying what they asked from Godot, “A kind of prayer” (Beckett, 13). This shows how Godot is a very Godlike character. Like God, we do not know exactly who he is, or even if he exists. However, we prefer to continue living in belief that we will one day see God, and that God we have been waiting for will have something we want. If Godot represents God, what we expect in God, is not what we should expect to be true (Cordeiro, 2011). The boy coming to tell Vladimir and Estragon that Godot is coming, says that he beats his brother. Inconsiderately expects people to wait for him endlessly, and also wait for him patiently. God may not be as kind, caring and loving as we think.
These two men themselves represents the image of God through the human race. Through the experience of these two men, we are able to discover how human behave and act. We see the absurdity of the human existence through the conversations these men have with each other. Demonstrates how human create pointless conversation and meaningless events in order to pass time. Vladimir and Estragon struggle to find a sense of purpose. They want to find something important worth living for, but they realize that nothing is of great significance in the human life. They bicker over pointless conversations, all to pass time while waiting for Godot. Vladimir: Finish your own phrase, I tell you! Estragon: Finish your own! Silence they draw closer, halt. Vladimir: Moron! Estragon: That’s the idea, let’s abuse each other. Estragon: Vermin! Vladimir: Abortion! Estragon: Morpion! Vladimir: Sewer-rat! Estragon: Curate! Vladimir: Cretin! Estragon: (with finality). Crritic! Vladimir: Oh! Estragon: Now let’s make up. (Beckett, 48).
Pozzo is very self-absorbed. He sees him as a Godlike figure and in greater character than he really is. He is flattered that Vladimir and Estragon mistaken him for Godot. When Vladimir and Estragon do not recognize him, he is astonished and surprise. He refers himself as the human species, and Vladimir and Estragon are the same species as him, “Of the same species as myself. (He burst into an enormous laugh.) Of the same species as Pozzo! Made in God’s image” (Beckett, 15). Whereas, Lucky is a slave to his master. Doing everything because he wants his master to respect him. Like humans, we do what we can to impress our God, to see that we are worth something.
The rope is what ties a slave to it’s master. Lucky is a slave tied to his master. When Pozzo is healthy and Lucky could think, the rope tying the two together was long. When Pozzo was blind and needed Lucky who was dumb to guide him, the rope was short. Symbolizes how the distance between the God and his slave is great, when the God is powerful and healthy. However, when the rope is short, the distance between the two is smaller, because their greatness is not in contrast as much. “This is an eloquent commentary on the corrosive nature of power relationships, the vulnerability of the oppressor, and the mutual dependence which can exist between master and slave” (Bugliani, 2011). When Estragon and Vladimir tries to hang themselves with a cord it breaks. They remind themselves tomorrow that they need to bring a rope. The rope is the tie between the master and his slave. The slave is unable to escape because of this rope that bonds them together. They wonder if they are tied to their man, Godot (Beckett, 14).
Is a carrot really a carrot? Or is it just what we like to call it? No matter what we call it, we would still be referring to the same thing. Vladimir: Nothing you can do about it. Estragon: No use struggling Vladimir: One is what one is. Estragon: No use wriggling. Vladimir: The essential doesn’t change. (Beckett, 14). At first they were bickering over the way the carrot taste. Regardless, they are referring to the same thing. It does not really matter who is right, and who is wrong. Questions our reality. We put a label on things, but that is not necessarily the way things truly are. We want to see an absolute truth, but we can’t.
The Theatre of the Absurd: “ Sense of the senselessness of the human condition and the inadequacy of the rational approach by the open abandonment of rational devices and discursive thought” (Esslin, 1961). Very unexplainable, and illogical things happen with the hat. 1. Lucky beings speaking nonsense when his hat is put on him. It is not logical to think that Lucky can all a sudden think, let along speak when his hat is put on. 2. Vladimir and Estragon exchange their hat, along with Lucky’s hat. They repeatedly do this countless times until a point where Vladimir questions if he looks good in the hat he has presently on. Their is no logical reason to why they do this, but it shows the humour in the things humans do. Things are not perceived in a irrational view, and lack any reasonable motivation for the way things are done.
Is always being put on or taken off. When the boot is off, Estragon looks inside and see's nothing, when he puts it back on he see's reality, the world and how nothing makes sense. It's always moving for no reason from place to place or on or off his foot Estragon continuously looks inside, it's a way of passing meaningless time. Every time he does, he becomes confused and puts the boot back on making it pointless every time. This shows the absurdity in humans, because no matter how many times we take our time to look and try to figure things out, we miss the big picture by dwelling on pointless matters.
Symbolizes poverty, they don't have enough for themselves all to eat. The only source that will help them survive, making them beg for it. Displays the desperate means in which we go through in order to survive the difficult situations that are present in life. Estragon and Lucky are deprived of food for a while so they are willing to eat anything. Pozzo is the master who eats the chicken from which the bone came from. He is the godlike figure who does not care that his slave is suffering. However, he gives them the leftover, which is just enough to survive.
Lucky carries around a bag which he never stops trying to carry. Pozzo does not force Lucky to carry this bag, but Lucky carries it because he wants to prove himself to his master. He feels as if he carries it around everywhere, to show his determination and devotion to making Pozzo happy. Symbolizes the worthiness we are trying to prove to our master and God. Pozzo says that Lucky is allowed to put the bag down if he wants to (he is not forced to carry the bag all the time), but Lucky does not leave the bag because he chooses not to. Lucky is devoted to carrying the bag because he wants to impress his master, so that he would keep him and not sell him. Pozzo, obviously does not care that Lucky is going through all this trouble to prove himself to him. We try to show God we are good people, by performing good deeds and doing worthy things with our lives- God might not care for us. Acts like a slave towards Pozzo, does everything that Pozzo tells him to do. Lucky has nothing else better to do than please his master by continuously dropping and picking up the bag and doing whatever else it is he's told to do with it.
Symbolizes life. On the second day leaves began to appear representing hope to Vladimir and Estragon. Also shows death. They rustle and murmur, saying they are the voices of those who have lived, but feels like living isn’t enough. Can be symbolized as the cross that Jesus was crucified on. Vladimir and Estragon were discussing about the crucifixion and the thieves that were involved. Godot is presumed as God and that is what Estragon and Vladimir are waiting for, however, because they are not entirely sure who he is, they are waiting for nothing sitting at the tree getting closer to death. They are rooted to this tree, no matter if they want to leave, they can’t. They are stuck waiting for Estragon, because life is rooted to pointless waiting. Estragon and Vladimir first see the tree and aren't sure if it's a tree or bush, which shows how we are not very certain about what we know in this world. Estragon and Vladimir contemplate about hanging themselves from the tree which can be connected to Jesus' crucifixion
Vladimir and Estragon are in the situation where they endlessly wait for a man name Godot. In their waiting they try to entertain themselves in various ways to pass time. They have to constantly be doing something in their time of waiting. Their situation, then, is that of people waiting for nothing much, in a universe that has nothing much to offer” (Esslin, 1961). There is not much to life, but we continue to look for a meaning, to give us a sense of purpose. “We always find something, eh Didi, to give us the impression we exist (Beckett, 44). Everything we do, is a false sense that our lives have a purpose, because we want to believe that our existence is actually making a difference in the world.
“Let us do something, while we have the chance! Its not everyday we are needed... Let us represent worthily for once the foul brood to which a cruel fate consigned us” (Beckett, 51). Human life revolves around waiting, everything humans do in between life and death, is worth nothing more than to pass time. Symbolizes how humans are all waiting for the day they meet Godot. In the mean time, they do everything they can to try to make their lives worth and mean something. Godot never comes: Is our waiting for nothing? We are waiting for something that we do not know exactly what it is that we are waiting for. In the end, our waiting could disappoint us, because Godot is not what we expect him to be. The repetition of events, shows how life is never a new experience. Since memory is unreliable, we do not recognize the cycle of the things we do.
In order to pass time, Estragon and Vladimir create a lot of small talk- most of which are very pointless. They repeat a lot of what they say even though it gets them nowhere. Whenever there is a silence, the two men, especially Vladimir, can not stand it. Humans can not stand not having nothing to do or anything to worry about, so we try to make life mean something more than it really is. The purpose of humans are no more meaningful than their pointless conversation and actions. Vladimir tries to make conversation, no matter how pointless the topic is. Demonstrates how everything we do is just to pass time. Nothing we do or say really matters, we are simply trying to pass time
Nothing is for certain to be the way it seems to be. Through one person’s eye, they may see things in a different perspective than the any other person. We do not know anything for sure, yet we try to pretend like we have everything figured out. What we see is what we convince ourselves is what the truth is. However, that does not mean we are right. Vladimir and Estragon are waiting for something indefinite, during their wait they become very confused about the situations they encounter, actions, objects and life itself. They question why things are the way they are, they are never sure about anything. Everything is sort of a blur, because Beckett reveals how little humans actually know about life. Vladimir and Estragon do not even know for certain who Godot is, but they still try to find meaning and purpose in everything they do. Everything that happens and is known is very confusing, because neither Estragon or Vladimir knows anything for certain. They question why things are the way we humans see it as.
Is thought as a concept we preoccupy ourselves with. Pozzo says, “Don’t question me! The blind have no notion of time. The things of time are hidden from us too” (Beckett,55). No body really knows what time is, and what it is about time that we are make ourselves so concerned with. The notion of time is pointless because: why does it matter when something happens, because the end result is the same. “Have you done tormenting me with your accursed time! It’s abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you” (Beckett, 57). Shows the frustration Pozzo has with people being so preoccupied with time, Time is absurd, because everything we do with out time is meaningless.
Here are the instructions: Two teams Pick symbolic element out of hat One person from each team acts out what is written on the paper First team to yell out what their team mate are representing, and the importance... Wins that round Winning team collects a total of 4 points. CHARADERS ARE SILENT.
Bugliani, Ann. "The Biblical Subtext in Beckett's Waiting for Godot." Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 16.1 (Fall 2001): Rpt. in Drama Criticism. Ed. Timothy J. Sisler. Vol. 22. Detroit: Gale, Literature Resource Center. Web. 14 Dec Cordeiro, Jessica, Teacher: Waiting For Godot Overview. December 7, Esslin, Martin. The theatre of the absurd. [1st ed. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Print. Shirley, Frances A. "Waiting For Godot: Overview." Reference Guide to English Literature. Ed. D. L. Kirkpatrick. 2nd ed. Chicago: St. James Press, Literature Resource Center. Web. 14 Dec Waiting for Godot: Study Guide." Free Study Guides for Shakespeare and Other Authors. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec "Waiting for Godot Symbolism, Imagery & Allegory." Shmoop: Homework Help, Teacher Resources, Test Prep. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec