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Reading Godot$
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Lois Gordon

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780300092868

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300092868.001.0001

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Waiting for Godot: The Existential Dimension

Waiting for Godot: The Existential Dimension

(p.55) TWO Waiting for Godot: The Existential Dimension
Reading Godot

Lois Gordon

Yale University Press

This chapter explains both the need for purpose and the emotional fragmentation tied to the struggle for an anchor within the reading of Waiting for Godot. In other words, it explores the existential dimension of the play, looking particularly at the sense of purposelessness that Vladimir and Estragon experience, and what efforts they take in order to fill this emptiness. Thus, this chapter provides a close reading of Samuel Beckett's play, in the light of existential thought—or the question of existence and purpose. This search for purpose in Waiting for Godot recalls and involves a rereading of Albert Camus' “The Myth of Sisyphus,” wherein Sisyphus also encounters a meaningless existence and purpose, but labors on with his task of pushing his rock up the mountain. The chapter thus explores comparisons between Camus' Absurdism against Beckett's own heroes, where Vladimir and Estragon lack, for one, Sisyphus's sense of defiance regarding their lot in life.

Keywords:   Waiting for Godot, existential dimension, Samuel Beckett, Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, Absurdism

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