Topic:- Fate play an important role in the life of a person (waiting for Godot)
Name:- upadhyay Devangana S.
Subject:-T he Modernist literature
Roll no:- 05
Submitted to:- MKB University
Guide by :- dr. dilip Barad
· Fate play an important role in the life of a person (Waiting For godot)
‘Waiting for Godot’ is originally written in French in 1948, Beckett personally translated the play into English.
Beckett is known to have commented,
“I had little talent for happiness.”
This was evidenced by his frequent bouts of depression, even as a young man. He often stayed in bed until late in the afternoon and hated long conversations. As a young poet he apparently rejected the advances the advances of James Joyce’s daughter and then commented that he did not have feelings that were human. This sense of depression would show up in much of his writing, especially in ‘waiting For Godot’ where it is a struggle to get through life.
Beckett journeyed through Ireland France, England and Germany and continued to write poems and stories. It is likely that he met up with many of the tramps and vagabonds who later emerged in his writing, such as the two tramps Estragon and Vladimir in ‘Waiting for Godot’. On his travels through Paris Beckett would always visit with Joyce for long periods. Beckett permanently made Paris his home in 1937 shortly after moving there he was stabled him for money. He had to recover from a perforated lung in the hospital. Beckett then went to visit his assailant who remained in prison. When Beckett demanded to know why the man had attacked him, he replied “Je ne sais pas, Monsieur” This attitude about life comes across in several of the author’s later writings.
All of Beckett’s major works were written in French. He believed that French forced him to be more disciplined and to use the language more wisely. However, ‘Waiting for Godot’ was eventually translated into the English by Beckett himself.
Samuel Beckett also become one of the first absurdist play writes to win international fame. His works have been translated into over twenty Nobel Prize for literature, one of the few times this century that almost everyone agreed the recipient deserved it. He continued to write until his death in 1989, but towards the end he remarked that each word seemed to him “an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness”
He befriended the famous Irish novelist James Joyce, and his first published work was an essay on Joyce. In 1951 and 1953, Beckett wrote his most famous novels, the trilogy;
· Malone Dies
· The Unnamable
The most famous of Beckett’s subsequent plays include Endgame (1958) and Krapp’s Last tape (1959). He also wrote several even more experimental plays, like Breath 91969) a thirty-second play. Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1969 and died in 1989 in Paris.
Throughout the work one can find religious, Philosophical, classical, psychoanalytical and biographical especially wartime-references, there are ritualistic aspects and elements literally lifted. From vaudeville and there is a danger in making more of these than what they are, merely structural conveniences avatars into which the writer places his fictional characters.
Beckett makes this point emphatically clear in the opening notes to Film:
“No truth value attaches to the above, regarded
Of merely structural and dramatic convenience.”
Lawrence Harvey saying that:
“His work does not depend on experience [it is]
Not a record of experience. Of course you use it.”
‘Waiting for Godot’ also illustrates an attitude toward man’s experience on earth: the poignancy, oppression, camaraderie, hope, corruption, and bewilderment of human experience that can only be reconciled in mind and art of the absurdist. If Godot is God, then Didi and Gogo’s (mankind’s) faith in God is not only, subject to doubt, but may also have almost entirely disappeared. Yet the illusion of faith-that deeply embedded hopes that Godot might comes still flickers in the minds of Vladimir and Estragon. It is almost as if the faith of these two men has been tested to such extremes that they can perfectly well see the logic of renouncing it-but they cannot completely.
Broadly speaking existentialists hold there are certain questions that everyone must deal with (if they are to take human life seriously) question such as death the meaning of human existence and the place of god in human existence. By and large they believe that life is very difficult and that it doesn’t have an “Objective” or universally known value, but that the individual must create value by affirming it and living it, not by taking about it. The play touches upon all of these issues.
We can’t fail to miss the theme of uncertainty in ’waiting for Godot’. Uncertainty is pervasive throughout the play: “the uncertainty of purpose of time, place, emotion, relationships, truth and hope.”Existence is the only certainty the play allows. The Cartesian dictum;
“I think, therefore I am”
Is challenged but essentially hold true. Didi and Gogo are themselves vivid dramatic representations of the Descartes’ body/mind split. Didi is all minds, Gogo all body. Thinking and inexhaustible talking may not be the same thing, but in the absence of the one the other will do. Throughout the play thinking is associated with doubt, with uncertainty, weariness, or absurdity. Clearly, the image of our ability to think is challenged in this play.
The language of the play is stripped bare, scaled down to its naked essence. You won’t find a writer more capable than Beckett in this regard. The beauty of Beckett’s language is in its absolute economy. It’s a tight little fist that punches hard. The language of this play forces us to reflect on how we use language, really. Is it as neat and tidy as we think? Are we really that concerned about being logical or rational? Do we really describe “reality” and how rational or logical is reality? How much of what we say is emotional, illogical and ambiguous?
In all of its aspects, including its language. ‘Waiting for Godot’ confronts the absurdity of existence and challenges us to figure out who we are and what we’re doing here. In this random universe, where everything who lives and who dies, who’s up and who’s down, is a matter of pure chance, and the odds aren’t necessarily in our favor, what do we do? What’s our purpose? The existentialist would say that our purpose is to be confronting our existence, our being to be aware of and a part of every passing moment to make choices, to act-to live authentically, in good faith aware of our essential freedom and responsibility. This is what Didi can’t or won’t do, and he persuades Gogo to keep him company while he continues to wait for Godot, while he pins his hopes on a future that may never arrive. His futile waiting is either absurd or heroic, depending on your own interpretation.
Reading a work of literature often makes a reader experience certain feelings. These feeling differ with the content of the work and are usually needed to perceive the author’s ideas in the work. For example; Samuel Beckett augments a reader’s understanding of ‘Waiting for Godot’ by conveying a mood, (one which the characters in the play experience) to the reader. Similarly a dominant mood is thrust upon a reader in Beowulf. There moods which are conveyed aid the author in conveying ideas to a reader.
In ‘waiting for Godot’, Beckett uses many pauses silences and ellipses to express a feeling of waiting and unsureness. There is a twofold purpose behind this technique. For one, it shows that Vladimir and estragon the two main characters that are waiting for Godot, are unsure of why they are waiting for him. This also foreshadows that they will be waiting a very long time. In some cases in literature, as idea can only be conveyed properly if those on the receiving end of the idea are able to experience the feelings that a character is experiencing in the work. For example in order for a reader to feel how and understand why Vladimir and Estragon feel as though they do while they, wait, it is essential for that reader to either feelings that Vladimir and Estragon are experiencing. Vladimir and Estragon are waiting, waiting for Godot, to be exact and Beckett wants the reader to feel as if he or she were waiting also. Along with the feeling of waiting that a reader may experience, he or she might also understand how Vladimir and Estragon feel at times.
Unsure not very anxious to move on and constantly having to wait. A feeling of timelessness is even evoked, allowing almost anyone from nearly any time to understand Vladimir and Estragon’s predicament. Many times people may feel overwhelmed by a higher force unalterable such as their fate. In the Anglo-Saxon culture a popular belief was that of fate. The writers of Beowulf may have known that not all people believe in the power of fate. Therefore to properly convey such an idea as the inevitability of fate in the epic the writers included events which when read are also ‘experienced’ by the reader. For example, the narrator of Beowulf states how fate is not on Beowulf’s side. After many years of winning countless battles, Beowulf was killed by a dragon in a fierce fight. While he was fighting and because the narrator had stated that fate was not on his side, the reader could identify with Beowulf and feel how he may have at the time: overwhelmed, overpowered and as if a force greater than he was controlling him (his fate).
Moods that are created such as that of longing or waiting and fear or inevitability, in ‘Waiting for Godot’ and Beowulf respectively hold a distinct purpose. The moods presented usually serve the purpose of helping the author express more fully and the idea or ideas that he or she wishes to convey. Also by conveying a universal mood, or one that nearly everyone is able to comprehend and interpret, the work of literature’s longevity is augmented. This will further help the reader to interpret the work and understand more fully the moods presented.
Inspired by Beckett’s literary style, particularly in ‘Waiting for Godot’ Stoppard wrote ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Dead’ As a result of this many comparisons can be drown between these two plays. Stopper’s waiting was also influenced by Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as minor characters exist within Shakespeare’s world providing Stoppard with his protagonists. However, the play is not an attempt to rewrite ‘Waiting for Godot’ in a framework of Shakespeare’s drama.
In studying these texts the reader is provoked into analyzing, comparing and contrasting them. In particular the characters in ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead’ provide intriguing material to consider the human condition. The characters their personality traits and responses to stimuli, as well as what directs and motivates them is worthy of discussion.
Stoppard gives Rosencrantz and Guildenstern an existence outside ‘Hamlet’ although it is one of little significance and they idle away their time only having a purpose to their lives when the play rejoins the ‘Hamlet’ plot after they have been called by the king’s messenger:
“There was a messenger……. That’s right.
We were sent for.”
Their lives end tragically due to this connection with ‘Hamlet’ predetermined by the title, but the role provided them with a purpose to their otherwise futile lives making them bearable. Their deaths evoke sadness and sympathy leaving reader grieving for them.
In contrast to Stopper’s play ‘Waiting for Godot’ is much bleaker in the respect that Vladimir and Estragon seem to have no purpose or direction in their lives. Their only hope rests on the mysterious Godot who ever comes however they do remain alive at the end. This leads the reader to question which pair of characters are the most unfortunate. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern may not have been saved from death but they have been saved from the futility of life which Vladimir and Estragon exclaim:
“We can’t go on like this”
Yet ironically they are left to do so.
In ‘Waiting for Godot’ we know little concerning the protagonists, indeed from their comments they appear to know little about themselves and seem bewildered and confused as to the extent of their existence.
Their situation is obscure and Vladimir and Estragon spend the day (representative of their lives) waiting for the mysterious Godot interacting with each other with quick and short speech. Although Beckett’s characters seem to expect so little from life, Viviam Mercier observes that they are never the less frustrated.
“They expect so little from life and yet
Their minimal expectations are frustrated.”
We laugh at the characters because the scenes are humorous, yet it is human unhappiness that we are laughing at.
Beckett creates this human in such a way that there is no discernible purpose behind it. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are two Elizabethans not easily told apart who play games to idle away the time, relying on others for amusement and impetus. They resemble Vladimir and Estragon in their interdependent relationship with one another however characteristically they are very different. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are incompetent and unfortunate. They continually appear to be bemused and lost unaware of what they are doing and why they are doing it, yet still feel omnipotent able to escape. Martin Esslin comments on their situation ”Beckett’s characters are no antique heroes and they are mostly unaware of the depth of their predicament.”
At one point Guildenstern says;
“We are entitling to some direction……….
I would have thought.”
Guildenstern begins to accept this feeling that his life is out of his control and says;
“We move idly towards eternity, without
Possibility of reprieve or hope of explanation.”
“We’ll know better next time.”
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s deaths shows how effectively Stoppard created these characters by the audience’s emotional reaction to their Vulnerability and predicament.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are unable to get their own names correct and similarly other characters in the play confuse them highlighting their insignificance:
“My mane is Guildenstern and this is Rosencrantz.
I’m sorry-his name’s Guildenstern and I’m Rosencrantz.”
They obviously cannot register their own identities or value. This strange lack of identity and individuality is odd as they actually different. Human nature is such that we believe we are the centre of our world and yet we are merely insignificant in someone else’s. Stoppard exemplifies this in ’Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead’ by the unique connection the play has with Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ on which it is based.
Stoppard integrates the two plays by drawing out two minor characters from ‘Hamlet’ turning them into the protagonists bringing them to the fore-front of the stage in his play. He creates an identity for them separate to that in ‘Hamlet’. Likewise the protagonists in ‘Hamlet’ are reduced to minor characters in Stopper’s production. Stoppard is known for grafting much of his best works onto plays that are already well established, such as his play ‘On the Razzle (1981) which is an adaptation of a Austrian play ‘Einen Jux will er sich machen’ by Johann Nestroy.
The first references to ‘Hamlet’ show Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s role in Shakespeare’s play. They are sent for by Claudius although they don’t know for what purpose. Claudius greets them;
“The need we have to use you did provoke
Our hasty sending.”
Rosencrantz: “We were sent for”
Rosencrantz: “That’s why we were here” He looks around, seems doubtful
Despite their confusion and hesitation they seem to regain identity and purpose when they re-enter the ‘Hamlet’ plot. Hamlet greets them;
“My excellent good friends; How does thou Guildenstern?”
The other story they become a part of is that of the player and the Tragedians. From their speeches is becomes clear how important it is for them to have an audience. The player illustrates their dependence on others because good performers are nothing without an audience and in this quest for an audience they;
“Look on every exit being an entrance somewhere else.”
Central to both plays is the theme of futile waiting and nothing happening which the audience can relate to the feeling frustration and ineffectiveness. In ‘Waiting for Godot’; Vladimir and Estragon live their lives in paralyzed anticipation in case Godot comes but they may not even recognize him if he does. This shows the resilience of humans to retain hope, often until the end. Their whole lives are resting on ‘Godot’ which is never defined. Whether it is supposed to be God or death or something else is unclear. Every evening they wait for this ‘Godot’ who they have probably never met “He’s a kind of acquaintance,’ We hardly know him’ “. They seek to pass the time representative of human fear that the end will come but also afraid that it will not. Stoppard suggests the outcome to this will be as a result fate or chance and tries to show how chance can be a key part of human life.
The possibility of chance is discussed in the first few pages where the two protagonists are tossing coins and the outcome is left to fate and probability. All the possible meanings of the word ‘chance’ are shown in the following quotes illustrating its importance.
Player: “It was chance then?”
Guildenstern: “you found us.”
Player: “Oh yes.”
Guildenstern: “ Chance then”.
Player: “or fate.”
Guildenstern: ”Yours or ours?”
Player: “It could hardly be one without the other”
Guildenstern: “Fate then”
Player: “We have no control.”
The Player readily accepts dusting and the unknown future, like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who like to feel that they do have control in their lives.
In ‘Waiting for Godot’ the subject of chance and probability is also considered;
Estragon: “I don’t know there’s an even chance, or nearly.”
Vladimir: “Well, What’ll we do?”
Estragon: “Well, don’t let’s do anything, its safer.”
What is this play really about? What does it all mean? What does it all have to do with us? Some audiences see immediately how they, like Gogo and Didi, are waiting, too. Maybe not for “Godot”, but for something. A little help, a little push, a little sunshine, a little windfall. The play tales pains not to be specific, to provide the space to read into it any way we want to. It does not preach a “message.” But when you think about it even a little bit, you realize that, just like Gogo and Didi we’re waiting all the time, too. Think about it: aren’t we waiting for war in Iraq to end. If you are a bank broker you might be waiting for and to bankruptcy court or class action suits or social security or taxes. Or an end to racism…. An end to poverty, domestic violence… May of us are waiting for environmental disaster, the next world war, the next flu epidemic, the next school shooting, the next terror attack… We’re waiting for security, good times that great vacation, that better job, that better wardrobe, that better car, that smaller computer , cell phone; We’re waiting for the perfect soul mate, the perfect body, the perfect moment… We’re waiting for our hopes to be heard our prayers to be answered, our wishes to be granted… We’re waiting, and meanwhile we’re…here.