Categorized | Books

Brief Review: Waiting For Godot

I wish Twitter had just three mandatory boxes for information: Name, Occupation, Liked/Did Not Like Waiting for Godot. No longer would I have to sift through three days of tweets to make my irrelevant decision on whether or not to follow them. (Self-awareness point.)  Barney Stintson has his Lemon Law, I have the Godot Guide. I wouldn’t even have to feign interest in her vague and unprepared ambitions.

Writing a book or play that’s open to interpretation is encouraged. Waiting for Godot is inseparable from ambiguous. Yet, per Waiting for Godot’s Wiki, he grew agitated at people asking what it was about before saying, “why people have to complicate a thing so simple I can’t make out”. Sir, if you want the questions to stop, you’re going to have to give some context clues. This play was anything but cut-and-dry, unless you want us to assume waiting around for a mysterious person has no metaphorical meaning — in which case, the play kind of sucks.

Two men are waiting for a mysterious Godot figure and they elect not to commit suicide for the other will be without a instrument to kill himself (once the nearby tree branch breaks). “It’s a game,” Godot said of his play. “There’s no truth value”. At least nihilism has the great courtesy to inform its reader that nothing is of any consequence in one’s life. Beckett seemed to lash out at those who dared to find a viable interpretation to his play, all the while leading reader on a fruitless goose chase and then merely saying it was all a game, and life is like that. No, Mr. Beckett, arrogance is like that. This play had shades of Ulysses in that the writer knew he was brilliant, and he knew everyone else knew he was brilliant, so he created a riddling form too elevated and nonsensical for its own good and the public went with it. Call it an inferior Irishman griping at greater kinsmen, but this play should not be titled Waiting for Godot. It should be titled The Dadaism of Beckett.

Where the text becomes dangerous is in the hands of impressionable minds — not scholars who will leave the theater with an airy indifference, hoping the play wasn’t actually supposed to have a meaning, and then on a deeper level hoping it was so that their time wasn’t wasted. Beckett falls under the Talented But Lucky Category. He had a vision with most of his work, as did James Joyce and Jackson Pollack. It may appear that, at times, these artists were just throwing words and paint at a canvas, but a greater talent was evident throughout most of their careers. (Ulysses was not even the most egregious example. Finnegan’s Wake? Come on, James. Non read-ium.) I do think we should dare to protest when Beckett was just hurling paint, in this instance, especially when we must instruct those who are too young yet to know the difference between paint splatter and abstract expressionism.

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About the Author

Chris O'Toole (Colorado State '12, Chapman '15) recently finished a Screenwriting MFA. He has written for Livestrong, CBS, and other publications. Love, hate, and job offers can be sent to: otool102@mail.chapman.edu