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Waiting for Godot - Samuel Beckett

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Author: Samuel Beckett / Genre: Classic Literature

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      16.01.2013 14:46
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      Beckett's Philosophy of the Human Clone

      Scenes:

      I - Didi & Gogo
      II - Pozzo & Lucky
      III - Boy

      - - -

      Sixty years ago this month it was the 'Waiting for Godot's' premiere.

      We are all waiting for the inevitable, albeit I guess you've got to do something pro-active while you wait - anyhow, it is human nature to do something with your time; yep this is one of the laws of humanity, not that I've read a drafted copy called: 'While Your Waiting For Godot', if I did it would have been a waste of time deciphering over it's contents. My elders made it clear to me, I cannot stare aimlessly into the yonder next to a barren tree for my entire existence - nevertheless gaping at a computer monitor is fine, so long pro-creation is the order of the day, regardless of how frivolous it maybe. Right now, you are like me, staring at a monitor. Coincidence - no not really, we all know the machine have taken over our souls! Godot has little to do with daily errands. Claiming you are 'Waiting for Godot' is hardly an excuse if you've been caught daydreaming. Modern life, doesn't allow you that luxury. Samuel Beckett's play strips the concept to its simplest form: 'Man, a naked tree, a road, a mould of earth and a sky' - time takes care of the rest - this is Beckett's caustic cartoon of the story of mankind - Beckett displays the bare minimal, the melancholy truth of our destiny, uncertain if it is mapped out prior to our births and if it is, does it matter? Hard to depict the gravitas of the subject and do it justice so Beckett's version is simplistically admirable if somewhat banal. Sections of society found the play morally damaging to the point the name 'Lucretius' creeps into converse - a believer that religion was a moral evil and its traditions are not for the sake of mankind's survival but duly to pass the time. A concept not dissimilar to Beckett's 'Waiting For Godot'. Beckett never really tried to divulge the meaning behind his play - partly because everyone will interpret it differently and so this play is a trigger point for further discussion - Beckett's ploy to save humanity from itself.

      The scenario delves around the concept of a Godot, God, Gods, or of a supreme creator, a higher council, ready to ascend or descend into the mix. (Godot is mute throughout this play) - Scene set; Vladimir = 'Didi' and Estragon = 'Gogo' are on stage waiting, two scraggly attired men. Gogo is sitting on a mound, maneuvering his boot. Didi walks up to him and states. "Did you ever read the Bible?"- "Do you remember the Gospels?" Gogo replied "No" - 'Didi' added: "It'll pass the time" - both convene in doing menial tasks - such as; tampering with boot, loitering about a leafless tree, engaging in a converse, purely designed for lethargic one-liners and long pauses. 'Waiting for Godot' was originally written in French 'En attendant Godot'. The French text scripted in 1948 - although not published until 1949 - and didn't premiere till 1953, in the 'Théâtre de Babylone'; the same year as Milosz's 'The Captive Mind', the anti-totalitarian classic - which deplores state ownership who're led to believe that God will provide them the precision navigation, 'the right path', be their confidante, be their eyes, ears and voice.

      'Godot' inspires and embodies social hierarchies with religious connotation - there were reports of Gogo's ideology simulating a 'Godless Communism', yet I fear the tramp intellect may waver at the concept of such a profound label. The righteous 'new' Godot maybe a Soviet man, who is to say he is not? You may not have heard of that fable. 'Godot' at the time stirred up huge speculative scenarios, criticisms, and you can see why Beckett's 'Godot' was thrown into the theatre of absurdity, and did well. Audiences love a rebel! Where there is religion, politics is never too far away - however, I rear to the side of Beckett's philosophical content, considering - mind-body-and soul - and welfare, but as the mental health of the characterisations seem highly questionable - you're quickly reminded that Bevan's NHS was in its infancy while 'Godot' was being written and mental health was deemed (non-existent) compared to physical health. The way the stage is set and the condition of the men portrayed it is evident Beckett's 'Godot'; highlights vile acts against humanity that subsequently aids for a sub-human culture: which these men are portrayed as -'is this best that human-kind can offer?' Sorry, I haven't any answers there, albeit, I bow my head to Beckett's social wisdom. A wisdom that translated the French script to English - as soon as the play was written in English, the wider audience took an interest.

      Loitering by the withered tree for deliverance is a very slow process - so slow it doesn't happen, well nothing of note happens - (sorry for the spoiler there) - excluding the garrulous content - unfeeling as they contemplate suicide, duly because neither of them know what day it is? "Lets hang ourselves immediately!" - Done in a manner as if considering whether a Darjeeling or an Earl Grey would suffice to quench the thirst - 'Godot' is a pantomime, without the joviality. The curtain closes, as they wait to see what 'Godot' says. Scene set for 'Pozo' and 'Lucky': Enter 'Pozo' - he's mistaken as 'Mr. Godot' - enter 'Lucky', he walks-in backwards. "Shall we have him dance, or sing, or recite, or think, or..." Pause, for thought, dancing would be more fun; (Lucky dances and then....... stops) - Didi, communicates to Pozo, to get Lucky 'to think' - "Give him his hat".

      The 'Thinking Cap' - originated from Robert Armin in the 'Foole upon foole' 1605: "The Cobler puts off his considering cap, why sir, sayes he, I sent them home but now."

      Lucky thinks with his hat: "Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann of a personal God quaquaquaqua......" He goes on - "with those who for reasons unknown but time will tell are plunged in torment plunged in fire whose fire flames if that continues and who can doubt it will fire the firmament..........." He goes on - "blast hell to heaven so blue still and calm so calm with a calm which even though intermittent is better than nothing but not so fast and considering what is more that as a result of the labours left unfinished crowned by..........." He concludes - "the Acacacacademy of Anthropopopometry of Essy-in-Possy of Testew and Cunard it is established beyond all doubt all other doubt than that which clings to the labors of men that as a result of the labors unfinished of Testew and Cunnard. . . tennis . . . the stones . . . so calm . . . Cunard . . . unfinished . . ."

      (Please note: this is just an extract of Lucky's prose) - Pozo, seizes the hat. A chorus of panting echoes in unison - a relief from the noise, brain-ache - the response is an over elongated pause..... This ends scene II.

      Curtain opens.... Didi and Gogo, dreamt that Pozo was blind. Silence falls on what had occurred - "Are you sure it wasn't him?" - "Who?" - "Godot!!" - Boy appears. 'Weren't you here yesterday' - Beckett's symbolism of humankind's fickleness. The boy claims that 'Godot' will be coming tomorrow, without fail. Exasperated; both Didi and Gogo knows that: 'Tomorrow never comes'. (Boy runs off) - A reaction that stimulates the more active response: "Let's hang ourselves". Pathetically, Gogo pulls out his belt which held up his trousers - Didi exclaimed the belt was too short. Gogo's trousers have crumbled to his ankles. "Pull on your trousers." On realizing he had lost his dignity by losing his trousers, he promptly pulled them up. "Well, shall we go?" - "Yes" - No-one moves - curtain drops.

      Beckett identifies the human condition in three scenes of a play. Total abandonment of freedom, doesn't exist - we've capsulated ourselves into a design for life that can only be described as a machine - routine is in our DNA - firmly rooted in our survival guide. There is no escape, apart from the ultimate sacrifice or by death, both brings great uncertainties, yet we as humans are unforgiving when it comes to the human condition; for some the only respite is religion - an inner understanding to a higher intellect or entity - whether it is real, is another subject matter. What Beckett does enable us to be conscious about is it may not be as complex as philosophers have led us to believe. Humankind has a 'free will'; we forget that, we also forget that seeing the sun rise could be noted as a miracle happening considering our position a highly volatile universe. What free-will enables us to do is aids us in making decisions for the good of humankind, yet we don't - because authoritarians are delusional, and no miracle can fix that - Highly recommended.

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        16.12.2009 11:15
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        You might like it, you might not. Whichever is your opinion, it retains its importance nonetheless.

        This infamous play by Irish playwright Samuel Beckett received a lot of attention last year when Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart played Vladimir and Estragon. Originally written in French, one critic famously described the plot of this as: "Nothing happens. Twice."

        Vladimir and Estragon, two men who we know little about, are by a tree, waiting for a man named Godot. They can't remember why he's coming, or even who he is; all they know is that they must wait. In order to pass the time, they converse, sleep, eat and even attempt to hang themselves. The play continues more or less in this vein.

        This is a play that has divided audiences and readers for decades. For me, it is a superb play which demonstrates the futility of life and the magnificent ability humans have of creating meaning where there is none and applying it to life. In all of the characters, the audience member can recognise aspects of him or herself; perhaps it is this which is part of the attraction.

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        01.01.2009 01:32
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        amazing play

        With modern times come the distortion of the old believes where everything was held supreme from man to god to animals. My love for this new existentialist literature make me read these plays and novels again and again. I can't stop myself as these plays novella or novels simply and marvellously baffle blow me away from my comfortable position in the world to the bare hard rocky realities of life. I can never imagine that some day I hav to identify myself to a person who eats carrots on good days and turnips on bad days and has one thing to do in the life that is waiting.
        The word waiting is very strong in the title of this play it stand s out from all other words its not wait or wited its waiting that means that it is an action that is kepp on going without any end. This waiting is the epitome opf all our life. This waiting is infinite so it makes itself at one instance useless also because its without any end. If some one has seen the first part of matrix there is one line that really is echoing continously in my mind that is that if we won't wake up from our dream how can we say that we are indream or in the real life. It means to make something meaningful it has to be ended.
        The story revolves around two characters Vladimir and Estragon. Bothe of them are waiting for godot by a tree. The words that are most important in the play are nothing as they are liiterally doing nothing in the play all they are doing is waiting. They keep on waiting till the end of the play. As all the actions they do during this waiting are reduced to nothing. Then we are introduced to two new characters and one of them is Lucky who though is a servant has the intellect but he is treated as an animal. I believe the play is without a beginning or end. It keeps on moving in circles like our life totally wasted.
        The word Godot is also very interesting as godot is actually god himself but as the modern existentialist philosopher believes that god is dead so we can also say godot is dead. Then some say god is a very unique word as its not god if it is inverted it becomes dog. So both have the same essence. That supreme god that was once idolized and worshipped is either dead or has converted into an animal. If we believe that the person lucky who was deteriorated as an animal is godot. Then all this waiting would be reduced to nothing. Thats why they keep on saying nothing to be done. Even when they would know that godot is dead I believe that they would keep on waiting as this is the only thing they can do and they will do till the end.
        This is a worth reading play. As I read it before I saw it so I really felt many things while reading that I would have missed while watching. In this play the silence and the gaps are also very meaningful. So I recommend to read this play before seeing it

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          21.11.2008 16:27
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          A brilliant thought provoking play by Samuel Backett.

          This the only work by Samuel Beckett that I can relate to. Everything else I've ever read of his left me scratching my head or had me blanking out due to boredom and/or my own ignorance and inability to connect. Beckett's work is abstract, absurd and minimalist but this play captivates me and is a milder example of his style and accessible to students. Also to those wanting to discover Beckett for the first time it would be wise and not too scary to begin with this play!

          I read the play before I ever saw it performed. I was a teenager at the time and into the strain of literature that deals with existential themes. I have since seen a televised version of it starring Barry McGovern and Johnny Murphy - I highly recommend seeing this if you need to study this play or have trouble bringing the characters to life.

          The play introduces us to two tramp like old(ish) men who are waiting on a dirt road in the countryside for someone they refer to as 'Godot'. Didi, or Vladimir is the penisve, intelligent half of the duo concerned with philosophy and manners whilst Gogo or Estragon is more simple-minded, vulgar and silly. Forced into a semi-amicable companionship the pair spend their time bickering and engaging in slapdash.

          A lot of people who read the play regard the behaviour of Didi and Gogo and exclaim: "Well, nothing is happening!". The fact is, the men are going through the motions of life just as we all do. They talk about smelly boots, they moan about their ill health and problems caused by getting older. They sleep and dream and think about analysing the dreams. They muse about the past and their glory days. They sing daft songs to pass the time and amuse themselves. They argue about religion and all the while and most important of all, they are waiting for this Godot character to appear.

          There is a notion that Godot will somehow save this pair from their poverty and difficult way of life. The men are cold, hungry and dressed in rags. They can't sleep in comfort or even physically function anymore. When they think of Godot they reveal that they have asked him for "a kind of prayer" and "a vague supplication". Whilst Godot is at first seen as a svaiour type figure later Estragon asks if they are "tied down" to him. This suggests some inner desire to break free from the long wait for Godot and whatever influence he exerts.

          Pozzo and Lucky are two characters who turn up at the roadside. In the first act Pozzo is a pompous, rich man who has his servent Lucky, tied to a rope and carrying his bags. Pozzo is supercilious and is a man who sees himself as a God like creature. He trys to deliver meaningful, poetic speeches or delivers speech in a punctual, polite manner - discussing the weather for instance. He sneers at Didi and Gogo but agrees they are "of the same species as Pozzo! Made in God's image!".

          Lucky appears to be a slave who doesn't want to lose his job. He therefore endures the abuse Pozzo gives him. Lucky behaves like a performing monkey - firstly by dancing and then thinking as a kind of entertainment. Lucky has one long speech at the end of act one where he delivers a diatribe of nonsensical phrases and terms.

          In the second act, Didi and Gogo go on as before. The nothingness is alluded to in phrases such as "Will night never come?" and "This is getting alarming". Pozzo and Lucky return but this time Pozzo is blind and in ailing health. Pozzo's brilliant last speech is an important one in the play: "...one day I went blind, one day we'll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die...they give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant and then it's night once more."

          The most obvious reading of the play is to assume that Godot is God. It does make sense and this idea seems to be supported by the fact that the allusions to Godot are frequently followed by religious language and ideas. In one interaction Didi says: "We are not saints but we have kept our appointment. How many people can boast as much?" Estragon replies: "Billions."

          Vladimir then muses on the apparant trivial nature of their lives as they wait for Godot: "the hours are long, under these conditions, and constrain us to beguile them with precedings which - how shall I say - which may at first sight seem reasonable, until they become a habit."

          What's clear is that this play can be read and analysed in a number of ways, all of them legitamite. What I take from this play may be something entirely different to what you take from it. I feel that, if you are a thinker, then this play will enthrall you. If you prefer clear cut plot, action and drama this is possibly not for you.

          Some advice for students reading this for the first time is to try a neat trick which I do with everything I read. Imagine the characters as your favourite actors as you read. This helps you to relate to the figures and makes them real in your mind. It will definately make you fall in love with Didi and Gogo.

          The play is available by Faber and Faber priced at £7.99.

          The last word goes to Estragon and perhaps sums up the play and its themes: "We are all born mad. Some remain so."

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            29.11.2002 22:15
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            At first glance, Waiting for Godot, is a bit weird, although very enjoyable. It is classed as 'theatre of the absurd', ie it has no particular plot, characterisation or theme, and does not reflect nature. However, the play is an attempt to look deep into the human psyche. Beckett uses lots of stage props to symbolise our reliance on material things. He believed that we are materialistic and concentrate on things like power relations in order to avoid thinking about our own life, and how meaningless it is. The characters in the play also all have a physical weakness or failing. Beckett saw people as concentrating on their physical weaknesses as this was something they could do something about, unlike the meaninglessness of their life. Characters need to constantly fill in the time and avoid silence, this is a reflection of people as a whole, who are constantly doing meaningless things and having pointless conversations. Again Beckett sees this as a way to avoid thinking about the futility of life. When looked at in this way we see that, behind its oddness and humour, Waiting for Godot is an attempt at an insight into the way people live and behave. Realising this makes a play which is already enjoyable and funny, much more enjoyable and even funnier. The play was written in French and translated into English in order to cut out slang, etc, making it easy to read and understand

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              03.07.2001 18:58
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              Most of the opiions on this play seem to say the same thing - that they found it much more enjoyable when seen in a theatre, or at least imagined it would be. And to me that is the whole point Waiting for Godot: it is a play, and as such is meant to be experienced in the theatre. You may know something of the plot, so briefly: two central charcters, Estragon and Vladimir, do very litte and can't leave their spot by the tree because they are waiting for the arrival of Godot, who never comes. Boring! You may have guessed that I don't think it's boring at all. If you're reading this play, imagine being in an audience. If you are in an audience, look at the reaction of everyone around you. For there is a world of difference between reading and watching: you can put a book down and do something more interesting. Short of walking out of the theatre, however, an audience is trapped. And why do you feel uncomfortable? Because there are great long pauses in the dialogue. What are you supposed to do? Someone say something for goodness' sake!!! Because nothing much happens. Someone do something please!!! And to me that is one, and most interesting, of the levels this play operates on. The characters aren't the only ones waiting, rooted to the spot but desparate for something to change. The poor audience is desparate for something, anything to happen. They are made to wait for the lines and action, but they can't leave, because what happens if Godot actually does turn up? We're getting into some interesting stuff with this play. That to me is why it is regarded as so important: it started playing around with theatre and audiences, and the Theatre of the Absurd takes it to another level. If you like this play, have a go at Ionesco, one of the great absurdists. Where Beckett is a bit bleak for some, Ionesco does it with humour. There are some good tranlations about: start with The Bald Prima Donna (la ca
              ntatrice chauve) and compare it to Waiting for Godot. Very illuminating.

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                16.01.2001 05:33
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                Reading Waiting For Godot is the only activity I can recall that makes watching paint dry seem like an extreme sport. Whilst endless repetition and virtually uninterrupted inactivity may express the futility of existence, the fact remains that it's a chore to read. If it's man's inhumanity to man, or the isolation of the individual you're after you'd be better advised to buy a telephone directory. Reading a phone book on a train would be equally postmodern. Apparently this is far more interesting on stage. This is probably you can look away, or let your mind wander, or sit in hope that one of the actors will fluff their lines (hardly likely). When Waiting for Godot first came out it apparently caused a sensation and changed theatre forever. Its influence is immersurable. However, few would argue that it is as important today as it was then. Still fewer would argue that the written version is better than the staged play. For these reasons I recommend that you spend a bit more money and go to the theatre instead. Alternatively, get something by Kafka or Camus; just as profound, and interesting too.

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                  15.01.2001 19:45
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                  In its time, Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting For Godot' was groundbreaking and changed the thinking of modern theatre. It helped create the theatre of the absurd where nothing really actually happens in the play. However, although in its day this was the case, it has arguably become a bit dated and can only be appreciated when seen at the theatre. Reading it, as I have been at university, becomes frustrating but not in an amusing way and it is very difficult to actually enjoy the text. Maybe if performed then the play would be easier to enjoy. The play features two main characters, Estragon and Vladimir. They spend their whole day waiting for godot. They don't actually do anything but wait and talk about trivial issues. Both acts in the play mirror each other with two characters, Pozzo and Lucky, arriving in each and a boy coming as a messenger from Godot at the end. Although they have nothing to do, Estragon and Vladimir portray the features of man (and women) between them. They are both kind and compassionate but also brutal at times and selfish. Estragon and Vladimir are the people and Pozzo and Lucky reflect the situations in the world. Pozzo is the dominant figure (the dictator, oppressor etc) and Lucky is tied to a rope as his slave. It signifies the rich and the poor. We are never told who Godot is. Whether he is a person is not apparent but he is Estragon and Vladimir's saviour. They wait for Godot as whatever he brings will be an improvement on their lives as tramps. In my opinion Godot is death. They wait every day for him, with time becoming insignificant, and when he fails to arrive they go away and then come back again. Everybody in life has a Godot figure. It could be money, love or chocolate but everybody has someone or something that rescues them from the useless mundane motion of life. The boy at the end of each scene is Godot's messenger and if I was directing the play I would have a girl
                  play the boy, and dressed as an angel. This would increase the absurdity and show that the boy is a representative of everyone and also demonstrate that he is Estragon and Vladimir's angel as he provides hope that Godot will one day arrive. Although not my favourite play ever, Waiting For Godot is still intriguing and was an important hallmark in twentieth century literature and theatre. It is often amusing, although more so in production than in the actual reading, and displays both the worst and best aspects of human nature.

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                    01.10.2000 07:51
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                    If you are the sort of person who gets fidgety if there is less than 2 killing spree's per minute this is not the play for you!! I have not read the book yet .....but I fully intend to after reading the other opinions here. I wasn't sure if I would be able to read the book from start to finish as having seen the stage play I realised that it is a gentle moving piece... focusing more on minatuae than big impressions. The first time I saw this play I came out of the theatre wondering what on earth I had just sat through....... 2 men having a conversation (at times) ...... the rest of the time was spent waiting for something to happen..... I really got the feel of Waiting for Godot myself. Having said that I eagerly took up the chance of going to see this play again.. partly because I wondered if my memory of it was acurate and partly to see if I had missed anything vital to the play the last time. On sitting through it again I realised that whilst my memories had been pretty accurate I was still intrigued by this work....... it left me asking myself questions for which there were no real answers. In all honestly I am still not sure what draws me to this work ... all I know is that something about it gets to me. As I said previously this is not for you if you need constant external stimulation....... it will surely drive you round the bend..... several people got up and walked out of the theatre both times I saw this play. But like anything ..... its always worth giving it a go to see what you think*s*

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                    25.09.2000 05:07
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                    I skimmed through most of these reviews, and I found a lot of assumptions about this play. On the other hand, I found a lot of vague speculation, which seems the most modest and reliable perspective in approaching this play. To read Beckett is to not find that definite line-- especially in the word "Godot"--which will define the entire play. In the "Preface to Shakespeare," Johnson said, "when he offered his house to sale, [he] carried a brick in his pocket as a specimen"; in other words, it is wrong to find too much meaning in selected passages of a single work, but instead grasp the entire philosophy of the book. One must grasp, first, a general meaning of the play retrieved from various stimuli.Such stimuli can be found in the following: "The Myth of Sisyphus" by Albert Camus, possibly followed by his novel, "The Stranger". When the concept of "absurdity" is understood, then proceed in reading "Waiting for Godot". This will be an easy climb to a higher understanding, and a potentially unique and intellectual opinion of this tragicomedy play on existentialism, or the absurdity of life. Further stimuli: Jean Sartre, Heidegger, Kafka, and (to jog your creativity) Borges. I am aware that I haven't given any personal opinions or guidance of this play, but I feel that I would be doing a great disservice to you if I had. This book is an excellent book; however, it is not a book for the wreckless reader, but instead it is for the sagacious ones who will suffer a little research to truly understand the philosophy, which can not be done in a 1,000 words, or explained as well as those great minds who unveiled these philosophical jewels--hearsay will, in other words, diminish the mind-expanding effect.

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                      16.09.2000 05:59
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                      Beckett managed to exercise enormous control over how 'Godot' has been staged, so I guess that reading it allows you a certain amount of freedom. Even so, there aren't a whole lot of clues. It's one of those plays which has been interpreted both as the last word in atheism (the tramps spend their entire lives doing absolutely nothing waiting for something which is clearly a con), and as a moving celebration of faith (they'll keep waiting for Godot, because they believe in him). I tend towards the former, perhaps because I am a heathen, and also because there's an air of piss-taking, or clowning and general scepticism about anything and everything in the play that makes me suspect that God isn't getting a good press here if that's what it's about. Beckett saw one of the original productions and demanded that the already long pauses be extended, he really wanted the audience to be fumbling. In this way, 'Godot' becomes that most post-modern of works, a great classic play which is a full-throttle assault on the theatrical experience, deliberately violating suspension of disbelief, and defiantly boring. Except that this last bit rarely works, if it really is the intention. Beckett's timing, his rhythm and his wit is desert dry and irresistible. 'Godot' onstage is a rivetting experience, and very good on the page too.

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                        22.08.2000 00:35
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                        Waiting for Godot is a classic and it seems to be either loved or hated by those who have read, seen or studied it. It is unsual, to say the very least, but when I studied, then saw and then stage managed this play, I grew to love it. Beckett has written a play about two old tramps (more or less), Vladimir and Estragon, who sit and wait for ever for a 'Godot' who never comes. We are never told why, or who Godot is (although it is a he)and much of teh attraction of this play is because so much is left up to the imagination of the viewer or reader. I had to see it in order to enjoy it. For me, it didn't come off the page very well. I would recommend it, though. It's a great play.

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