Compare and Contrast





Compare and Contrast

Waiting For Godot by Samuel Becket is a narrative that provides the daily events of the lives of Vladimir and Estragon who are seemingly idle and unable to make any decision without the presence of inscrutable Godot. The author uses a peculiar poetic language as he narrates the experiences and events of the protagonists. In the Under Milkwood by Dylan Thomas utilizes vulgar and colloquial language to describe places, events, experiences and establishes themes as he communicates to the audience. Using such language, the authors in both texts succeed in highlighting the varied language used in the construction of themes and ideas.

In Under Milkwood the author colloquially names the town Llareggub (yah-REH-guhb) which is modeled from on an old village located in the welsh coast known as Laugharne, where he grew up for a number of years. The term Llareggub (yah-REH-guhb) is used sarcastically as a reference to “bugger all” which means lack of worth. This is seen to be a message to the audience to take the actions in the play lightheartedly. Despite the sarcastic name used by the author to describe the town, he illustrates a profound love for the community and its people. The milk wood trees that are located on top of the hills, in its various lanes and streets such as Goosegog Lane and Coronation Street are all attempts to add a realistic impetus to the play.

To the author Milk wood is an area that is marked by love and new experiences. The author utilizes language as a means of enhancing the thematic understanding of the play. This is mainly driven by the fact that the play was featured on radio when television sets were not easily available to the common population. The descriptions used by the narrator are classical in that he utilizes description styles to introduce the audience into his understanding of the Milk Wood area. For instance, in the opening statements of the play he notes:

“It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters’-and-rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishing boat bobbing sea.” (Thomas and Burton 44)

This is used as a means of enabling the audience to understand the time and geographical appeals of the play’s setting. This is used to highlight themes of darkness, sorrow, hopelessness and the troubles faced by voyagers at sea. In addition, the darkness described by the author illustrates lots dreams, death, dark memories, and lost visions. Blind Captain Cat has dreams of past sea voyages and deceased lovers, Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard has also lost her husbands, Polly Garter has lost her babies, Mary Ann Sailors of the Garden of Eden amongst others. The author seems to intertwine the themes of death and birth simultaneously.

In addition, the author succeeds in illustrating the contract between color and darkness, which are used thematically by using contrasting wording such as in the description used in “rainbows and tunes and wishes and flight and fall and despairs and the big seas of their dreams”. The author is able to captivate the dreams, visions, and recreations of the audience in relation to the daily activities and occurrences in Welsh villages and the various cultural eccentricities. It is understood that the author sought to make the audience voyeurs as they overlook the daily events of the Welsh village. The entire play rests on the premise of innocent voyeurism and its dark aspects given that darkness also forms a primary theme in the play (Valentine 21).

Voyeurism is associated with cruelty, perversion, and exploitation and thus it gradually transitions from impersonal and innocent voyeurism towards one that is marked by darkness and lack of vision. Within the play, the artist employs unpredictability given the use of different voices as he seeks to entice the audience and allow for artistic freedom. This is used as a means of highlighting contrasting themes, personalities and describing the daily life in the Welsh village. In addition, the language used provides a means of familiarizing the audience with bizarre incidences.

Waiting For Godot by Samuel Becket highlights the lives of three individuals, Vladimir, Estragon, and Godot. It is evident that Vladimir and Estragon are held back by their habits of inaction. The two individuals have strong and differing insights into the functionality of the abysmal world. Estragon notes, in response to Vladimir’s comments about “nothing to do” and the ineffectiveness of rationality, notes that “we are all born mad, while some remain so” (Valentine 23). The two individuals set the tone of cynicism that frequents the play in suggestion of primordial intuitions because of being subjected and relegated to nothingness.

The two individuals can be termed as nihilists given their frequent despair and plight of being relegated to nothingness. In the narrative the individuals are mired by the belief that life is without meaning with the constant answer to their questions about life being “no” or “nothing”. The two are lacking in initiative and seem to resort to one constant message that is noted by Vladmir, “Yes, in this immense confusion one thing alone is clear. We are waiting for Godot to come—” (Valentine 33). On the other hand, the two are not nihilists, as they seem to indicate that despite their hopeless and confused state, they have a sole purpose, which is to “wait for Godot”. Thus, it is inferred that man has the ability to remain hopeful even in confusing and frustrating circumstances.

The theme of hopelessness can be related to Nietzsche’s view that “Any meaning is better than none at all.” (Valentine 26). It is also noted that the two affirm that life is a brief and bizarre interlude between the darkness of death and ‘thrownness’ of birth. The two are embroiled in a debate over committing suicide but “do nothing” since it is presumably safe to be inactive (Valentine 23). The attempted suicide results in failure and they resort to “waiting for Godot” such that they can be saved from their demise. It is evident that their dependence on one another relegates them to nihilism and the constant cynicism over the value of life. The views expressed by Vladimir and Estragon are similar to Christian and platonic views the abandons favor for this world in hope for a better one after death.

The author also applies eschatological themes in the play as evident in various incidents. Vladimir talks of the Gospels as he notes that, “One of the four says that one of the two was saved” (Valentine 23). Various bible themes, characters are mentioned such as the reference of Christ as , “our savior”, Estragon’s comparison of his life with that of Christ, and Pozzo’s claims that mankind was created” in the image of God”. Critics have claimed that “waiting for Godot” is a symbolic reference to God or the second coming of the Messiah/Christ. Godot is understood to be an unreachable god, future utopia, death, individual authenticity, hope, and clarity over the confusion and nothingness exhibited by the two characters. In addition, he is also inferred to be a quasi-bureaucrat who holds a senior social position and status within the community.

Godot is understood to be a religious or political figure despite his absence. The term “waiting” implies patience and is a contributing factor towards the hopeless nature of the two characters, Vladimir and Estragon. It is noted that the two are waiting for Godot who would presumably save them from their hopeless nature and lack of individual authenticity. Furthermore, the penultimate goal is the arrival of Godot, which is marked by numerous silly acts such as games, intended suicide, singsongs, and imitations of characters such as Lucky and Pozzo. They are constantly relegated to inaction because they lack purpose and activities such as employment or initiative to undertake entrepreneurial activities. They live in the shadow of anticipation of a pseudo salvation that seems to be elusive and an addition to their confusion and “nothingness” (Valentine 12).

The two plays have similar themes, such as dreams, vision, hopelessness, darkness, and faith as exhibited by the main characters. Waiting For Godot illustrates the lack of hope and the associated confusion that arises from nothingness”. The two novels also interchange from themes of hope and hopelessness as the characters are met by different experiences. In realization of their role in waiting for Godot, the two actualize their respective individual authenticity. In addition utilizes two voices, which are used as a means of recitation of images within the different scenes.

The author in Under Milkwood also used humor as a means of enticing the audience towards understanding the themes of darkness and hopelessness. They are successful in communicating their concerns to the audience over the loss of hope and its contribution towards lack of individual authenticity and direction in life (Thomas, and Burton 37). Blind Captain Cat is an example of loss of hope in Under Milkwood given that he engages in constant recollections of his past and the loss o people close to him.

Furthermore, there is a shift from the joy and birth and the contrast of death as noted in both plays. Birth and death are reflective of the lingering questions held by the main characters over the purpose and direction of life. The themes of death and birth resonate in both plays and illustrate the joy and anguish brought about by the most important life events in human life and society. Vladimir and Estragon’s contemplation of suicide is illustrative that they value life despite their hopeless nature and lack of individual authenticity. The characters are reliant on one another for identity and authenticity.

Works Cited

Thomas, Dylan, and Richard Burton. Under Milkwood. London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 2001. Print.

Valentine, John. Nihilism and the Eschaton in Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”. Florida Philosophical Review, Volume IX, Issue 2, Winter 2009. Print.






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