still waiting for godot

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Vladimir and Estragon, the two main characters of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, are anything but mute. The two men can hardly shut up. Each time they face a moment of silence, a moment of pause, they panic immediately, fall into despair, hold each other fast and talk some more. In the course of the play, we come to know that these men have been friends for around 50 years, and that they were told — when and by whom we do not know — to wait by the tree in the moonlight for Godot. They are poor; we don’t know why. As for Godot, we don’t know what or who that is either, only that Vladimir and Estragon are desperate to meet him, that they have been waiting for an undetermined period of time, and that they will continue waiting. Or they won’t. Waiting For Godot is not a play of answers. Like “Man and Woman Observing the Moon” it is a work of the ineffable, but an ineffableness very different than Friedrich’s. As they wait for Godot, Vladimir and Estragon fill the void with nonstop activity. They talk about the past, talk about the future, talk about the Gospels, exchange shoes, exchange hats, talk with strangers, contemplate hanging themselves from the tree, feed each other, play act, pretend to be the tree, exercise, sleep, sing, contemplate the moon, contemplate leaving each other. Each time Vladimir and Estragon try to make sense of their situation, try to understand it, control it, reason with it, they are filled with anxiety. It is the attempt to understand that gets them in the most trouble.

more from Stefany Anne Golberg at The Smart Set here.

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