CONTRADICTIONS IN WAITING FOR GODOT AND ENDGAME
Samuel Beckett’s theatre reveals the frightful diseases of the humanity. Beckett pictures modern man as a stranger full of illusions and deprived of his past, values, and hopes. His world of plays cannot be explained by reasoning because it is not a reasonable world, though familiar it is. In such a maddening universe, language has lost its function and man has become more vulnerable and thus dependant because of his isolation and fears. However, all his efforts are in vain since all remedies prove futile. Finally, all these result in unavoidable contradictions. Shocking the audience with the bare reality put on stage, the playwright exposes a pessimistic world view though this reality is the very thing the human beings experience in daily life. With this paper, I aim to reveal how masterfully Beckett’s plays, Endgame and Waiting for Godot, create an atmosphere in which contradictory elements go hand in hand.
Absurd Drama seeks to emphasize the absurdity of life, traditional and modern institutions. Since the decadence of these crucial elements is irreversible, there is no way for recovery. Absurd playwrights try to deconstruct any conventions and this deconstructing process has its roots in post-modern drama. Samuel Beckett is commonly regarded as “The progenitor of post-modern theatre” (Hinden, 1986: 400). His theatre is utterly subjective and seen as a “nihilistic reaction to the recent atrocities, the gas chambers and the nuclear bombs of the war” (Styan, 1981: 125). His main search is about the problem of existence and human identity. His plays reveal the tragic situation of mankind. Waiting for Godot unearths the deep subconscious realms of humanity successfully. Endgame has also many-layered meanings. Both plays are so powerful that they indicate both several autobiographical experiences of the author and represent a universal situation from which many could derive something from their own lives as Enoch Brater says: “Beckett now made us see as new things that were always there in front of our eyes, but never before in such sharp relief” (Demastes, 1998: 57). His work is a sort of mixture of tragedies and comedies of humanity. Beckett classifies Waiting for Godot into tragicomedy (Uslu, 2001:197). The opposition and stress between what is said and actions constitutes comedy, and human failure and despair constitutes man’s tragic condition. However, although Pozzo’s fall is a clear sign of tragedy, his characters, like the tramps in Waiting for Godot, are not “great souls suffering greatly” as in classical tragedies (Kennedy, 1987: 1148). The waiting of the pair produces comic results. Thus, combining fun with pain, and fear with laughter, Beckett creates a modern tragicomedy. His plays, as is the case in Absurd Drama, do not aim to give a moral or social lesson. Beckett’s theatre does not present a hopeful environment in which man is powerful enough to tackle his troubled condition but makes audience be aware of certain facts, including his mysterious condition, in a shocking way. Since it is also a theatre of shock, it presents the most frightful conditions of humanity the audience is not willing to see, such as chaos and death. It shows the troubled situation of humanity, diagnoses the disease, but does not suggest a prescription since it does not believe in the existence of such a treatment. Throughout his lifetime Becket has been sceptic about the certain aspects of objects, hierarchies, and the reliability of the language. He has criticises ignorance and weakness most in his plays. Beckett tries to reveal the subconscious realm of the individuals through his personal feelings and experiences. Almost in every Existentialist and Absurd writers, the boredom and weariness they reflect on their works also afflict their own lives. For example, after a strenuous and hard life of work, Beckett puts aside his literary career and social responsibilities. He writes poems and stories, indulged in various jobs, moves from Dublin, London and Paris, respectively and travels different countries, such as France and Germany. Seemingly, the lonely tramps, he created in Waiting for Godot, are the result of these experiences (Esslin, 2001: 33). Beckett has a close relationship with James Joyce during his stay in Paris. Joyce’s unhappy daughter openly expresses her love for Beckett, but Beckett feels in an incorrigible alienation; furthermore, he adds that he “had no feelings that were human; hence he had not been able to fall in love with Lucia” (Esslin, 2001: 34). He reflects this problematic situation in his later works. Murphy tells the story of the hero who often escapes from any attempt to marry his girl friend. In his first but unpublished play Eluetheria, a young man tries to run away from his family and social responsibilities. The works mirror his search for freedom as well as his real life experiences. They reflect deep feelings, fears, anxieties and hopeless human condition (Esslin, 2001: 38).
The playwright purposefully does not give any scene in detail. Instead, a kind of evanescence covers the whole play. The more ambiguous his plays, the more messages they convey in number. Act Without Words I sums up what Waiting for Godot and Endgame try to give as the final message. The character thrown into the stage, which obviously stands for life, is directed by a whistle in order to achieve the dangling carafe of water. After failing in getting it despite all his efforts, he remains still giving up trying to get it. Because only after having enough of experiences, he gets the ultimate message of the futility of reaching the goals, which mostly turns out to be achieving the material possessions (Esslin, 2001: 74-75). Thus any objective remains beyond the reach of the human beings because things that man covets to possess are in an imaginary dimension and man can only dream it as Clov implies: “I love order. It’s my dream. A world where all would be silent and still and each thing in its last place, under the last dust” (120). The ever repeating failures and bubbling-like murmurings and mutterings symbolize the boring, monotonous and meaningless life. The futile efforts of man, the meaninglessness of the language and behaviours, the powerlessness of the humanity, the irrecoverable and inexorable alienation process are what Beckett underlines as the main reasons for indispensible contradictions