Circularity in waiting for godot

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Circularity in Waiting for Godot

May, 2008


One of the most important aspects in the play “Waiting for Godot” is its circularity in many aspects, not only in the plot but also the characters and its language. Radical drama does not have a strict structure nevertheless in Waiting for Godot the sense of circularity is present although time and space are not defined. We only havesome stage directions that inform us that the first and the second act happen in the same time and place, but do not determine which the time is and which the place is. Another aspect that lead us to circularity is the dialogues and the characters, on the one hand the dialogues are recurrent all the time, once they feel tired or bored they decide to leave, but then is when they use the recurrentidea of Waiting for Godot.

Samuel Beckett is considered one of the key figures related to the so called Theatre of the Absurd which was developed during the late 1940’s until the late 1960’s. Though the term is applied to a wide range of plays, some characteristics coincide in many of them: broad comedy, characters caught in hopeless situations forced to do repetitive or meaningless actions;dialogue full of clichés, wordplay, and nonsense; plots that are cyclical or absurdly expansive. Although all these characteristics mentioned above are present in the play, the central issue of this essay is to examine the circularity in the play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. This examination will be focused on how the dramatic shape is constructed, the importance of time and how it isstructured in the dramatic action and the use of language.

The dramatic shape in Waiting for Godot is completely new; in order to understand what becomes new in this type of structure both structures should be compared, the traditional one, called Burgeois drama and the new one, called the Radical drama. On the one hand, Burgeois drama structures its dramatic shape into five parts: preparation, raising,climax, fall and closure whereas in Radical drama this pattern is used and subverted to create the “new” one. In Waiting for Godot the plot is constructed in a cyclical mirroring, it is circular. The play consists of two acts and they are identical, in both of them happen the same things, and also appear the same characters, there is no progression of the conflict, the only difference is that thetree now has four or five leaves. The characters are waiting, as the title points out, for Godot, who neither in the first nor in the second act appears. Some critics argue that this kind of structure is a strategy to undermine the audience expectations of dramatic form.

Moving into another important issue, time acquires a relevance in the play that undermines the linearity of the plot, makingit circular. The characters become obsessed with time, they are constantly thinking about it. This timeless notion is opposed to the traditional structure of plays, in which the dramatic action is contextualized in a temporal framework and leaves a sense of ending which coincide with the end of the performance1. In Waiting for Godot the sense of closure does not exist there is no progression, itstarts as it ends: same place and same time and Godot never comes. In this sense, Beckett is using the notion of time in order to defamiliarise, there is no “here and now” in which the characters are aware of the passing of time, such as in the traditional drama; at first glance, it seems that Pozzo is the only one that pursues an objective, he is aware of time, he is in possession of a clock, butthen there is a reversal and he loses it. At the end, there is no character with time notion; Beckett has removed time from all of them. Another aspect in the construction of characters is the fact that they have not even a past neither they do not even know what it waits for them in the future; this is also a strategy of disruption towards the audience.

The use of language in the play is...
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