Waiting for Godot is about two men, Vladimir and Estragon, who are waiting for the appearance of the mysterious Godot. They remain in the same location for an indeterminate length of time, keeping to their vigil. Generally…
Summary: Act-I Two men, Vladimir and Estragon, meet near a tree. They converse on various topics and reveal that they are waiting there for a man named Godot.
While they wait, two other men enter. Pozzo is on his way to the market to sell his slave, Lucky. He pauses for a while to converse with Vladimir and Estragon. Lucky entertains them by dancing and thinking, and Pozzo and Lucky leave.
After Pozzo and Lucky leave, a boy enters and tells Vladimir that he is a messenger from Godot. He tells Vladimir that Godot will not be coming tonight, but that he will surely come tomorrow. Vladimir asks him some questions about Godot and the boy departs. After his departure, Vladimir and Estragon decide to leave, but they do not move as the curtain falls.
The next night, Vladimir and Estragon again meet near the tree to wait for Godot. Lucky and Pozzo enter again, but this time Pozzo is blind and Lucky is dumb. Pozzo does not remember meeting the two men the night before. They leave and Vladimir and Estragon continue to wait. Summary: Act-II
Shortly after, the boy enters and once again tells Vladimir that Godot will not be coming. He insists that he did not speak to Vladimir yesterday. After he leaves, Estragon and Vladimir decide to leave, but again they do not move as the curtain falls, ending the play.
In all… Vladimir and Estragon wait for Godot at the beginning of the play, wait for Godot in the middle of the play, and wait for Godot at the end of the play. Godot never comes. So Vladimir and Estragon continue to revolve–but never evolve. They are caught in the absurdity of continuously moving but never progressing.
“Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful.” “We are all born mad. Some remain so.” --- Waiting for Godot
Who is Godot? God (Godot) Death …… Even Beckett did not know what Godot symbolized, saying that had he known he would have said so within the play.
Major contents: I. Historical background (post-modernism) II. The Theatre of Absurd III. Samuel Beckett IV. Murphy
I. Historical background (post-modernism) The aftermath of World War II increased by the Cold War. Disillusionment coming from the realization that Britain had been reduced to a second-class power.
Value Differences in the Modern World Pre-Modern WorldModern World (Early 20 th Century) OrderedChaotic MeaningfulFutile OptimisticPessimistic StableFluctuating FaithLoss of faith Morality/ValuesCollapse of Morality/Values Clear Sense of IdentityConfused Sense of Identity and Place in the World
The theorists who influenced modernism & postmodernism Karl Marx Albert Einstein Sigmund Freud Friedrich Nietzsche Henry Bergson Martin Heidegger Jean-Paul Sartre
1. New meaning of existence Awareness of man’s propensity to evil and conscience of the destructive power of scientific knowledge. The lack of moral assurance and the decline of religious faith. The disillusionment with both the liberal and social theories about economic and social progress. Mistrust in the power of reason. A sense of anguish, helplessness and rootlessness developed especially among the young
2. French existentialism Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980) Existentialism saw man trapped in a hostile world. Human life was meaningless and this created a sense of confusion, despair and emptiness. The universe was not rational and defied any explanation.
A group of dramatists in 1940’s Paris believed life is without apparent meaning or purpose; it is, in short, absurd. Paradoxically, the only certainty in life is uncertainty, the absurdists believed. II. The Theatre of Absurd 荒涎派戏剧
An absurdist drama is a play that depicts life as meaningless, senseless, uncertain. For example, an absurdist’s story generally ends up where it started; nothing has been accomplished and nothing gained. The characters may be uncertain of time and place, and they are virtually the same at the end of the play as they were at the beginning. (Waiting for Godot)
The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock up to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than this futile and hopeless labor. 神决定对他予以严厉惩罚：把一块巨石推上山顶，石头因自 身的重量又从山顶滚落下来，屡推屡落，反复而至于无穷。 神认为这种既无用又无望的劳动是最可怕的惩罚。
Albert Camus 加缪 — A world that can be explained by reasoning, however faulty, is a familiar world. But in a universe that is suddenly deprived of illusions and of light, man feels a stranger. His is an irremediable exile, because he is deprived of memories of a lost homeland as much as he lacks the hope of a promised land to come. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, truly constitutes the feeling of Absurdity.
1. Main features of absurdist play Absence of a real story or plot. No action since all actions are insignificant. Vagueness about time, place and the characters. The value of language is reduced; in fact, what happens on the stage transcends, and often contradicts, the words spoken by the characters. Extensive use of pauses, silences, miming and farcical situations which reflect a sense of anguish. Incoherent babbling makes up the dialogue.
2. Main themes of absurdist play The sense of man’s alienation. The cruelty of human life. The absence or the futility of objectives. The meaninglessness of man’s struggle.
Samuel Beckett III. Representative of the Theatre of Absurd An Irish playwright A novelist A poet
1. Beckett’s background 1906~Samuel Barclay Beckett ． Born in Dublin, on April 13, 1906. ． Solitude and loneliness. 1923-1927 French, Italian and English at Trinity College ( 三一学院 ） 1928-1936 ． In Paris, Beckett was introduced to James Joyce. ． Ireland, France, England and Germany.
1937 settled down in Paris. 1947~ Beckett began to write in French. 1961 married Suzanne Deschevaux-Dumesnil. 1969 Nobel Prize for literature. 1989 Becket died in Paris on December 22.
Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969 for his “writing, which—in new forms for the novel and drama—in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation”. 他那具有新奇形式的小说和戏剧作品使现代人从精神贫困中得到振奋。
2. Career: as a novelist first novel, Murphy (1938 ) Watt (1944) a trilogy in French Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable (1951-1953) How It Is (1961)
As a dramatist Waiting for Godot production in Paris in 1953 and in London in 1955 End Game (1958) Krapp’s Last Tape (1959) Happy Days (1962) The Last Ones (1972)
3. Beckett’s concern Beckett is preoccupied with rendering the human impotence and nihilistic vacuum of life.
Samuel Beckett’s Murphy is an absurdist novel which depicts absurd, meaningless, nostalgic, ennui condition of its protagonist questioning to the truth, certainty and happiness of modern life.
Murphy was a former Irish student, who lived in London for next to nothing, and helped his landlady to cheat while paying for his living to the owner of the apartment. Love towards prostitute Celia made him look for new means of subsistence, and he found a job as nurse at the Magdalen Mental Mercyseat (called the MMM). Later this hospital became the place of his death as a result of an accident. All his life Murphy tried to escape from any kind of action. The Story ：
Assignments: P.96 Murphy One & Six Question: Who is Murphy? What kind of person is he?