Contemporary Drama and Samuel Beckett
In the early 60s is very important the “Theatre of Absurd”. The main exponents are Camus and Ionesco. Important is “the Myth of Sisyphus” (is condemned to eternity to climb on a mountain with a stone attached to the foot, but he will never arrive). Sisyphus became the example of the dramatist, in fact life has no meaning; what people do is to give meaning to something that has no meaning, it’s “Absurd”!
They just pass their time! This theatre gives expression to feelings like loss, lack of purpose and confusion. There are confusion of identity, no values, no faith and hope, nihilism!
He was born in Foxrock, near Dublin and was educated at Trinity College, where he studied French and Italian. In 1928 he went to Paris, where he met Joyce (with whom he formed an important friendship).
Like Joyce, he was a cosmopolitan writer, in fact he went to Germany, France, etc.
Beckett’s early novels were written in English, but then he changed, in fact he wrote in French his later works.
His main works are “Waiting for Godot (1955)” and “Endgame (1958)”. He was associated with the “Theatre of the Absurd”. He died in 1989.
Waiting for Godot – The Plot
The work is divided into two acts. There is no plot, no actions, only two vagabonds, Vladimir (Didi) and Estragon (Gogo), who are waiting the mysterious Godot. They don’t know where they are, and their only point of reference is a tree. They want only to pass their time! If Godot comes, they can go away, but where? Then they have the idea of killing themselves, but this is impossible because if the first kills the other, who will kills the first?
Then there was a third figure, Pozzo (with his servant Lucky). A boy appears with a message saying that Godot will arrive the next day.
The second act has the same structure of the first! The boy returns with the message that Godot will arrive the next day, but he will never arrive! At the end of the play, Vladimir and Estragon, decided to leave, but they remain standing where they are.
The play is based on a structure of repetition (of word and action, because they pass their time) and variation. The structure of the 2 act is symmetrical to the first. The other characters have no memory! They don’t remember anything!
Characters without a role
Becket uses his characters to play an elaborate language game. The words have a double sense. They refer to their simple meaning and to their philosophical and complex meaning! Becket call this play a “tragicomedy”.
The figure of Godot
Godot is the major figure of the play. He is central in the romance, because all the people talk about Godot, but he is a “Central Absence”! In fact If Godot comes, Vladimir and Estragon can go away, but where? They don’t know what they have to do! There is a contradiction; they don’t want to stay together, but one without the other they would have no reason to exist!