Hopelessness In Albert Camus' The Plague And Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot

839 words - 4 pages

Hopelessness in Albert Camus' The Plague and Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot  

Does Existentialism deny the existence of God? Can God possibly exist in a world full of madness and injustice? Albert Camus and Samuel Beckett address these questions in The Plague and Waiting for Godot. Though their thinking follows the ideals of existentialism, their conclusions are different.

Camus did not believe in God, nor did he agree with the vast majority of the historical beliefs of the Christian religion. His stance on Christianity is summed up most simply by his remark that "in its essence, Christianity (and this is its paradoxical greatness) is a doctrine of injustice. It is founded on ...view middle of the document...

During his second sermon, a change is seen in Father Paneloux. He now uses the pronoun "we" instead of "you," and he has adopted a new policy in which he tells people to believe "all or nothing" (224). Father Paneloux, as a Christian, is faced with a decision: either he accepts that God is the ultimate ruler and brings goodness out of the evil that afflicts men, or he sides with Rieux and denies God. The conclusion formed by Camus is that because this is a world in which innocent people are tortured, there is no God.

Samuel Beckett does not necessarily deny the existence of God in Waiting for Godot. If God does exist, then He contributes to the chaos by remaining silent. The French philosopher Blaise Pascal noted the arbitrariness of life and that the universe works based on percentages. He advocated using such arbitrariness to one's advantage, including believing in God. If He does not exist, nobody would care in the end, but if He does, a believer is on the safe side all along, so one cannot lose.

In this play, either God does not exist, or He does not care. Whichever is the case, chance and arbitrariness determine human life in the absence of a divine power. This ties in with the two tramps' chances for salvation. As one critic observes, "For just as man cannot live by bread alone, he now realizes that he cannot live by mere thinking or hanging on...

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