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Why are We Waiting? Habit and the Role of Consciousness in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The controversial play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett is a play in which nothing but waiting really seems to happen. Throughout the play, the two characters Vladimir and Estragon continue waiting for Godot despite the fact that he never comes. While they are waiting they appear to conduct absurd and meaningless exchanges and games to pass the time. This essay explores the nature of the waiting for the absent character Godot: what is implied by this persistent waiting and what is the result of them doing so? The essay tries to explain the waiting through exploring the ideas of habit. Furthermore, it also deals with existential theories of consciousness and meaning through the ideas of Sartre.

The essay argues that the meaning of the play emerges through the two characters’ act of waiting, and that the seemingly meaningless activities that Vladimir and Estragon perform are highly important as they provide the two characters with their raison d’être. The essay also shows that the two characters’ existence is dependent on Godot, because through the acknowledgement that he exists and in the hope that he will come to save them, they create their own rationale for waiting, regardless of it being true or not. Thus Vladimir and Estragon are able to create their meaning by choosing to continue waiting for Godot. They are also able to create this meaning through the conscious interaction between their surroundings and one another by the games they play while waiting. The essay also argues that the waiting is a conscious choice, and that the seemingly unreflective habitual games they play are as well. Furthermore, the choice of waiting is then reflected in the audience by their conscious choice to watch the play and join the character in their waiting for Godot. Thus, Beckett has created a play in which the focus is the experience and meaning of waiting, regardless of whether the one on which we are waiting will come or not. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 18 p.
Keyword [en]
Waiting, Meaning, Habit, Sartre, Proust, God, Consciousness
National Category
Specific Literatures
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-90994OAI: diva2:629531
Available from: 2014-01-22 Created: 2013-06-17 Last updated: 2014-01-22Bibliographically approved

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