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When studying a text like Waiting for Godot where there is so much to unpack, it really gives you the opportunity to write about key themes or ideas that you are interested in. At the end of the day, the aspects of the main text that you study that resonate with you will allow you to express your interest for the subject and show the marker you know the elective. To show you how this can be done, lets dissect some parts of the Worlds of Upheaval rationale and show their links to Godot, alongside some primary themes.
“Individuals and communities seeking unity, certainty, solace, justice or restoration during social and political upheaval”
This phrase from the rationale looks at a few different ideas, but let’s take unity as an example. There are several types of unities throughout the play that you can elaborate on in your essays, a few include:
– Thematic unity
– Unity of existence
– Aristotle’s unities
Thematic unity is perhaps an overarching one that looks at how each individual action in the play works together to create meaning as a composite whole. For instance, taking off of the shoe and the bleak setting with the tree are constantly repeated and shown all form to create a unit of existence. Interestingly however, as the viewer awaits Godot’s arrival, these actions form no substance as Godot never arrives and neither do the protagonists take action.
“How texts representing worlds of social and political change challenge literary conventions and traditional societal values”
The notions of irrationality and incongruity of life stem from the Theatre of the Absurd. These are aspects of real life that are incorporated throughout the drama, overturning what society marked as ‘real’. When Godot premiered, the audience were shocked because of the new theatrical form as it employed unconventional methods never seen before.
Unconventionality is a huge part of the play, with the avant-garde depiction of existential angst shown through the characters’ questioning of life which is then contrasted with humour. The lack of dialogue with substance highlights the harsh truth of life and the lack of meaning in society.
Now, let’s take a look at a couple of ideas to see how they could be incorporated in relation to the elective. To see how to put a full mark essay together, click here.
1: The Search for Meaning & Monotony
Throughout the play, Vladimir and Estragon rove to find answers to existential questions such as ‘what is the meaning of life?’. The continuous suffering endured is evident as both characters return to the tree even after Godot does not appear in sight. The stage directions and dialogue are strong indicators of such actions.
Examples of these include:
– “they do not move.” (stage direction)
– “nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful!” (Estragon)
– “what was it that you wanted to know?” (Vladimir)
– “no more weeping” (Estragon)
The monotony of the play is shown through the dull setting and repetitive dialogue. In both acts, nothing seems to happen, with Irish critic Vivian Mercer stating that “nothing happens, twice”. The absurdist form of the play highlights that nothing changes, and the play ends similar to the way it starts – a cyclical yet haphazard text without a doubt.
IDEA 2: Human Predicaments and Motivations
The predicaments and aspirations in Godot are definitely apparent and link strongly to the rationale for the Worlds of Upheaval elective. The play can be seen as a statement by Beckett regarding the human predicament and the ways society endures the harsh aspects of life such as isolation. The post-apocalyptic setting further amplifies this as the text becomes a metaphor for the human predicament, as individuals are faced by a senseless world where the only motivation for survival is companionship.
The aspirations and motivations for both Estragon and Vladimir arise from their faithfulness to the rendezvous – their strong relationship and the lack of action portrays their commitment to waiting for Godot. But why do they wait? There could be many reasons, but a few could be because they enjoy each other’s company and although they don’t know who Godot is, they wait and so that itself symbolises hope.
Some quotes that show the time spent waiting in this predicament include:
– “nothing to be done”
– “hope deferred maketh the something sick, who said that?”
– “I’m going [he does not move]”
– “we can’t [go]”
Try to use different themes you learn in class and connect them to different parts of your elective’s rationale when writing your essays. Being able to express these complex ideas takes practice, so refining your arguments and seeking feedback is always a great thing!
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