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English, Waiting for Godot, Samuel Becket, Essay

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“Nothing happens twice” How far do you agree with this statement in Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett?

Repetition is the recurrence of an action or event. In the play Waiting for Godot repetition seem to have an important presence. On a country road, near a tree, two tramps, Estragon and Vladimir, waste away their time waiting for Godot. One takes off his boots, and the other talks of the Gospels. One eats a carrot which the other offers. These action bodily summarise the actions found in Waiting for Godot. However, does this mean that “nothing happens twice” in the play as the critic Vivian Mercier put it? On one hand, the grand overview of the play an aspect of repetitiveness is perceived as the two characters seem to reproduce dialogues and actions previously seen in Act 1. On the other hand, every action that seems repeated is also presented by a variation.

One of the distinctive features of the absurd plays, which emerged in the 1950s is the unusual structure. Waiting for Godot, written in 1954, has a circular structure which is very distinctive. It has no logical exposition or resolution. The situation is usually static; nothing changes and nothing is solved as it explores the idea that there is no solution to the problems of man in the hopeless world.

Usually, a play is structured with certain imposed rules. Waiting for Godot is not constructed along traditional lines with exposition, development, reversal and denouement; but it has a firm structure based on repetition and balance. The play summarizes itself quite simply: two tramps sitting by the roadside waiting for a person named Godot to come; they exchange strange ends of conversation, which are as meaningless and at certain times as “gross in their insistence on physical detail as anything to be heard inside an army camp.”; the appearance of Pozzo and his servant, Lucky. In the second half of the play the same pair, Pozzo and Lucky, are seen again but now the first one has gone blind and the latter cannot speak at all. Meanwhile, the two tramps continue waiting for Godot.

The structure of Waiting for Godot, based on repetition, marks the return of leading motifs with some variable elements. The play is in two acts of unequal length, both of which is set in the same place and begins at the same time “early evening”. The use of repetition can be illustrated with an example of Pozzo having eaten his meal, lit his pipe and says with evident satisfaction: “Ah, that's better.” Two pages later Estragon makes precisely the same comment having just gnawed the remaining flesh of Pozzo's discarded chicken bones. Yet, the circumstances, though similar, are not identical for Pozzo has eaten to his full while Estragon has had a meager something. The repetition of the words is therefore an ironical device for pointing a contrast like that between Pozzo's selfish order to Lucky to give him his coat in act I and Vladimir's selfless spreading of his own coat round Estragon's shoulders in act II. In addition, we witness Vladimir's song at the beginning of act II is just a life example, as the entire structure of the play is repetition and circular in nature:

A dog came in the kitchen


And dug the dog a tomb

Therefore, Vladimir’s song is circular and repetitive.

Both acts of the play take place in the same setting; there is simply a country road, which is not given a specific location with a single tree. The audience is never transferred to another location; all of the action takes place within one setting. In addition, both acts unfold at the same time of the day: in the evening. Time in act II is supposed to be the next day but as we witness that, there is no essential difference between that day and the previous day in act 1.

The same tendency towards repetition can be served in the action of the play. Both acts have the same kind of similarities in the sequence of action happened to the characters. The action begins with the same situation: in act I, Vladimir enters and Estragon observes, “so there you are again.” and in act II, on meeting Estragon, Vladimir exclaims: “you again!”. A little later, he said: “there you are again.” They feature a discussion of beating Estragon. In both there is a concern over Estragon’s feet and boots. We listen to a discussion of Vladimir’s difficulties with urination. There is a comic conversation involving carrots, radishes and turnips. Vladimir and Estragon contemplate the possibility of committing suicide by hanging. The only visitors upon the scene are Pozzo, Lucky and a boy.Finally, both acts end with the same words. Vladimir suggests at the end of act I: “Yes, let’s go.” At the end of act II, Estragon’s suggestion is identical; “Yes, let’s go.”In neither case do they attempt to move as well.

Another feature of the circular is the contrasted characterization. The main characters in the play Vladimir, Estragon, find themselves associated and have joined in a complex sado-masochistic relationship for many years, but their nature obviously come into conflict: There is no development of the four main characters, no evolution and indeed, “there is no delving into the individual psychological makeup of the four characters. They represent universal man” as Ramona Cormier put it.

The nature of the dialogue in the play illustrates the circular patterns of structure, which has been suggested. In both acts, much of the dialogue is inconclusive and repetitive kind of conversation. As shown after a difference of opinion over a trivial matter, Vladimir and Estragon are reconciled and short silences follow. Such silence causes Vladimir to ask, “What do we do now?”. Estragon’s


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