Waiting for Godot: Existentialism and Christianity In modern day society, individuals usually experience the same routine over and over again, but rarely become aware of the drudgery of daily life. These people are unable to achieve a higher level of existence by being uniform.
Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett, is an existential play where two men are stuck in the same routine day after day. They sit around all day waiting for the inevitable arrival of a man named Godot, who seems like he will never come; the two lose track of time.The men are completely unaware of what day of the week it is; they seem to be achieving nothing in their dull lives due to their tedious ways.
Waiting for Godot is more than a mere existential play; there are heavy undertones of Christianity, creating a religious aspect to the play, yet the author manipulates Christian beliefs to strengthen existentialistic ideas. There are many existential elements in this play, mainly monotony and the inability to take action. Both Acts one and two of the play are similar because they contain identical events. First, Vladimir meets Estragon at the same tree.
Estragon sleeps in a ditch all night and is continually beaten up. They become acquainted with Pozzo and Lucky, and then a boy notifies them that Godot will arrive tomorrow. At the end of the act, Vladimir and Estragon are unable to leave, and the second act repeats the same sequence of events. Vladimir admits that “habit is a great deadener” (Beckett 105).
A fundamental belief of existentialism is, individuals who repeat the same mundane task will not live life to the fullest and are stuck in a lull. The characters in Waiting for Godot are constantly stating that they will take action but do not acquire the initiative to finalize the task.Their life is not complete or entirely satisfied because of their “lack of perfection, power, and control…over their [lives]” (All About Philosophy). Pozzo realizes his inability to maneuver and remarks, “I don’t seem to be able…to deport” (Beckett 5). Estragon then rejoins stating, “Such is life” (Beckett 5). People are inflicted with the difficult task of taking initiative and become dormant when they do not choose to take their own future into their hands. According to Kierkegaard, people constantly have to choose what they become of and therefore, “must take responsibility for [their] future” (Philosopher).
The men in this play are unable to take action and need an outer force to act upon them (Philosophy Paradise). They are afraid to “accept the risk and responsibility of following their commitment wherever it leads” (Age of the Sage). The men do not want to act on their own because they are scared to take a chance. They are unable to determine their own fates and therefore, wait for God to decide. Existentialists believe that the individual should to take charge in what becomes of their fate.
That burden cannot be shifted “onto God, or nature, or the ways of the world. –Professor Robert Solomon” (Dividing Line).By taking control, one can enjoy their life as an individual because they choose what becomes of their existence. Christianity plays a major role in Waiting for Godot, as there are many references relating God to Godot and Jesus Christ to Estragon. During the first act, Estragon decides to walk around barefoot and claims, “[a]ll my life I’ve compared myself to [Christ]” (Beckett 57). He is able to compare himself to Christ because all men, including Jesus, are God’s children.
Moreover, “Godot stands for God” (New York Times) because “only God know what the future contains. (Urbana). This is relevant to Godot because the men are depending on him to decide their fate. They will not settle on a path for their futures until they meet Godot. The two men inquired Godot for “a kind of prayer” and are waiting for his reply (Beckett 12). This religious act is an allusion the prayers that many Christians make to God. Thus far, the men have not been aquatinted with Godot because “God does not calculate time as [they] do.
” (Urbana). Their day may not be the same amount of time as what Godot designates it to be.The men are forced to wait endlessly for the day that he will arrive. This is yet another allusion to Christianity; the men lingering around for Godot and the Christians waiting for the Lord’s coming. The Christians believe that “in God’s good time [he will] again enable men to see clear” (Reformation Ink). By allowing men to see clearly, they can make their own decisions in life and become more of an individualist. Christians believe they should live in awareness for a unique time when they are needed to set everything aside to “receive something from God or to do something for God” (Urbana).When this time comes, one should know the difference between what needs to be done and what is truly important (Urbana).
A time when this is relevant, is when Vladimir contemplates whether he should assist Pozzo up or go harass Lucky with Estragon. He discovers that it is important to help Pozzo up. He declares, “It is not every day that we are needed” (Beckett 90).
Vladimir realizes how valuable life is and how “[f]reedom is a gift from God” (Christian-Philosopher). Both Estragon and Vladimir are, “waiting for…waiting” (Beckett 5o). This is against Christian beliefs because the men are not cherishing the time God has given them.
The time God bestows upon them must be spent with responsibility and should be seen as a divine gift (Urbana). Christianity and existentialism are intertwined in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Although they both have different beliefs about the demise of one’s life, they have the same principles on how to live. Christianity and existentialism both believe that time should be cherished.
Christians view time as a heavenly offering from God, while existentialists believe that individuals must live in the now, because they will not be on earth for long.When Vladimir and Estragon encounter Pozzo in the second act, Pozzo divulges, “I don’t remember having met anyone yesterday. But to-morrow I won’t remember having met anyone to-day” (Beckett 101). It has been stated earlier in the play that Pozzo is the “universe. ” He is trying to convey that one day someone is born and the next, another person dies.
Eventually there is no recollection of the deceased human, and the world keeps going on. According to both existentialism and Christianity, it is up to the individual to choose what they do in life, since “time is limited” (Urbana).John Cassidy declares “[n]o one [can] do their work for them, and no one [can] stand behind” them (Christen-Philosopher).
It is up to the individual decide what they become of in life. No one, including God, has to deal with their way of living, except for themselves. They are the ultimate rulers of their existence and “have some control over the course” their future takes (Urbana). ? Bibliography Banks, Robert.
Complete Book of Everyday Christianity. 1997. Urbana. 7 December 2009 Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot. New York: Grove Press, 1954 Cassidy, John.
Christian Existentialism.Christian – Philosopher. 13 December 2009 Eiermann, Katharena. DividingLine. com. Dividing Line. 13 December 2009.
< http://www. dividingline. com/> Existentialism – A Philosophy. Philosophy All About. 12 December 2009 Existentialism. Philosopher.
13 December 2009 Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. 2006. Philosophy Paradise. 30 Nov. 2009 The origins of Existentialism. Age of the Sage. 17 December 2009 .
Machen, J. Gresham. What is Christianity? Reformation INK. 17 December 2009. Atkinson, Brooks.
Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot. ’ 20 April 1956. The New York Times. 17 December 2009.