A Better Understanding of The Two Act Play

“Normally I didn’t see a great deal. I didn’t hear a great deal either. I din’t pay attention. Strictly speaking I wasn’t there. Strictly speaking I believe I’ve never been anywhere.” – Samuel Beckett 

Before writing this post, I planned on including a quote that compared plays to their books. As read and scrolled down the list, I stumbled upon a quote from Samuel Beckett and continued reading more of his quotes. I thought the quote above was perfect for explaining why Beckett wrote this play. 

I always prefer the play over the novel because it is a visual of what the playwright is trying to convey to the audience. Also, I hate reading the stage directions because it ruins the flow. Even though the play did not help in any way in learning the meaning of Beckett’s work, it did give me a better understanding of the beauty of the play as a whole.

I learned to appreciate the actors in memorizing and acting out the lines only minds like Beckett could understand. In my opinion, the play was more comical than the book and it is due to the odd movements. In one moment, Vladimir and Estragon are sulking and brooding around. The next time you look, the two hobos are leaping in unison closer to, and clearly invading the space of, Lucky. Ryan and I laughed at how lame the tree was. I mean, the only eye-catching object in the whole setting is the thinnest strip of material they could possibly find. My interpretation of the lame tree and extremely minimal scenery is Beckett’s way of diverting the attention of the audience from the setting to the words and actions of the four men on stage. 

Now, I believe I have a good idea about why Beckett wrote this play as a result from the quote I mentioned above. Personally, I think he is revealing some regret for being passive and inattentive during his life. So it makes sense that he would want to make his own “public service announcement” within the novel and encourage people to not “go with the flow” and waste time becoming pessimistic towards life like he has. In the book, Vladimir proclaims: 

“Let us do something, while we have the chance! It is not every day that we are needed. Not indeed that we personally are needed. Others would meet the case equally well, if not better. To all mankind they were addressed, those cries for help still ringing in our ears! But at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not. Let us make the most of it, before it is too late!…What are we doing here, that is the question. And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in the immense confusion one thing alone is clear. We are waiting for Godot to come –” – Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot (pages 90-91) 

This could be just one of many ideas Beckett is trying to convey to the audience or the one and only idea, but I believe the only one who knows is Beckett himself.

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