To what extent is the juxtaposition of elements of tragedy and comedy in this extract typical of the interplay of these forms in the rest of ‘Waiting for Godot’?
‘Waiting for Godot’, written by Samuel Beckett, is a play which has no subtext, leaving the audience to make up their own mind about the direction of the play. Its subtitle is ‘A tragic comedy in two Acts’, which is clearly presented throughout the whole of the play. The constant juxtaposition of tragedy and comedy makes the play almost meaningless, yet is still entertaining for the audience. Aristotle said that a tragedy should move the audience by depicting suffering and pain. Beckett achieves this, yet contrasts the suffering ...view middle of the document...
It allows the audience to see Estragon and Vladimir’s life as tragic, but their inability to realise how tragic it is makes it humorous.
Repetition is also used to depict Vladimir and Estragon’s tragic situation, yet adds a comedic effect:
‘What about hanging ourselves? … I hadn’t thought of that’
Here, Beckett provokes the reader to feel sympathy for Vladimir and Estragon, by showing the hopelessness of their situation, and their feelings to commit suicide. This relates back to Aristotle’s idea of tragedy, that it should move the audience by depicting suffering and pain. However, Vladimir and Estragon discuss it with a careless attitude, which contrasts their suffering with comedic ideas towards their gloomy situation. This is repeated twice more in ‘Waiting for Godot’, once at the end of Act one, and again at the end of Act two. They discuss it both times with a careless attitude, yet do not act upon it. This comedic repetition relates back to the fact there is ‘nothing to be done’, and the possibility of hanging themselves as a conversation topic makes the audience sympathise with Estragon and Vladimir, as the audience realise that the characters’ position in life will never change. The idea of ‘”Waiting” for Godot’ is shown to be that they will always be waiting for him. The use of words such as ‘saying’, ‘falling’, and ‘wriggling’ and ‘asking’ all have an ‘ing’ ending, showing that it is an ongoing process, which seems to be never ending. Therefore, this creates a constant tragic element in the play for the audience, as they are the only people who realise that it is never ending for the characters.
The way Estragon and Vladimir interact with each other is also used to juxtapose elements of comedy and tragedy throughout the play. They often finish each others sentences, or guess what the other one is about to say:
‘Estragon: What exactly did we ask him for? … We’ve no rights any more?’
The short exchanges they have about Godot shows the closeness of the two characters, and that they spend a lot of time together. They are reassuring themselves about Godot coming, yet still remain uncertain about what he wants. Their uncertainty reflects the play, as nothing is definite at any point...