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Book Review By Michael JR Jose
Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett

This is a downbeat play, very down and very beat. It is sometimes called existential, but do not be fooled - it is anti-existential. Nothing happens, slowly. It was famously performed in a US prison, the prisoners being rather keen theatre-goers, mainly to experience the sight of real live women on stage. It became apparent that the play had no females in it and they were on the point of walking out (in prison no-one judges you for bad manners, and you are already in for something much worse). However they lingered a minute too long. Enthralled, they watched both acts. The whole tragi-comedy. They identified with the two tramps, who unceasingly bicker and fret in a childish and pointless manner. Occasionally they consider suicide, which is as upbeat as it gets.

The plot for this play is taken from Shakespeare's Macbeth, Act v, sc. 5, just after Macbeth's wife commits suicide. 'Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.' Note that Shakespeare says in thirty-eight words what Beckett takes a whole play to say.

So, all in all, this is not an uplifting play. The tramps maunder and apostasize their lives away. Like the book of Ecclesiastes the cry is 'Vanity, vanity, all is vanity'. But whereas the book of Ecclesiastes has an strong element of hope in it, 'Godot' has none. They wait and wait, and do not even know why. Seeing the play as a teenager (and not walking out) I felt claustrophobic, as if I was in a sort of spiritual prison. I can see why the prison inmates empathised. A tragedy only feels tragic if the watcher identifies with the characters: so if you too feel that life is a form of life sentence, then perhaps this is the play for you. But be warned that there are no answers here, the message is that 'there are no answers, and even the questions are pointless'. So if you see this play when you feel blue and end up fatalistic, don't say I didn't warn you.

Plot & Themes
Tone of book? - depressed
Time/era of story - 1930's-1950's
Life of a profession:
Other aspects:
Internal struggle/realization? Yes
Struggle over
Is this an adult or child's book? - Adult or Young Adult Book
Job/Profession/Status story Yes
Ethnic/regional/gender life Yes
Pearls of wisdom from homeless? Yes

Main Character
Gender - Male
Age: - 40's-50's

Main Adversary
Identity: - Male
Age: - 40's-50's
Eccentric/Smart/Dumb: Yes
How sensitive is this character?
Sense of humor - Cynical sense of humor
Intelligence - Average intelligence

How much descriptions of surroundings? - 2 ()
Europe Yes

Writing Style
Amount of dialog - mostly dialog
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