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Waiting for Godot

             The setting of Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot is much like Jean-Paul Sartre's portrait of an existential hell in the play No Exit, in that in both, torture is not physical pain, but the monotony and meaninglessness of waiting for nothing. In Waiting For Godot, Vladimir and Estragon repeatedly make desperate attempts to entertain themselves while they wait for the mysterious and elusive Godot, who is their potential source of salvation from purgatory. Vladimir and Estragon occupy themselves with childish games in the hope that this will make time pass quickly, and that Godot will arrive to save them from monotony. Vladimir and Estragon wait for Godot because he represents salvation from a meaningless existence in the same way that many people search for significance in their everyday lives. In Waiting For Godot, when Beckett creates a purgatory in which a god, Godot, that the characters perpetually wait for never arrives, he comments on the frustrating, and often futile, human quest for meaning. Waiting for Godot is a prolonged episode in purgatory, so the fact that time passes abnormally is crucial to the play. Most of the time it is dusk, and when night finally comes, it falls abruptly. This suggests that the world that Vladimir and Estragon inhabit is somehow unworldly. For example, Vladimir tells Pozzo, who is concerned with keeping his schedule, that "time has stopped"(37). Time does not progress at all in the play "in purgatory. Furthermore, Vladimir repeatedly wails in wonderment, "will night never come"(33)? Here he comments on the never-ending nature of the dusk, a period typically thought of as a transition from day to night. Day symbolizes life on Earth and night the afterlife; therefore, dusk represents purgatory. Night eventually comes, but only for a moment "a hint of what is to come. Then, the characters fade away with the ending of Act I and when the next act begins, it is dusk yet again and the characters do not seem to realize that day never came.

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