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Samuel Becketts Waiting For


Godot: A Critical Allegory of
Religious Faith

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Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot has been said by many people to be a long book about nothing. The two
main characters, Vladimir and Estragon, spend all their time sitting by a tree waiting for someone named
Godot, whose identity is never revealed to the audience. It may sound pretty dull at first but by looking closely
at the book, it becomes apparent that there is more than originally meets the eye. Waiting for Godot was
written to be a critical allegory of religious faith, relaying that it is a natural necessity for people to have faith,
but faiths such as Catholicism are misleading and corrupt.

Vladimir and Estragon spend all their time through out the book waiting for "Godot." It is unclear to the
audience if either of them have ever seen Godot or even talked to him.

"Pozzo: Who is Godot?

...Vladimir: Oh he's a... he's a kind of acquaintance.

Estragon: Nothing of the kind, we hardly know him.

Vladimir: True...we don't know him very well...but all the same...

Estragon: Personally I wouldn't even know him if I saw him" (Beckett 16).
It is made clear to the audience through conversation like this that neither Vladimir nor Estragon has any
evidence that Godot even exists; yet they spend their time waiting for him to come. They simply believe in
him without proof. They have faith that he is real and that faith gives them hope. It gives them comfort.
Relate Godot to God and the same is true. No living person has ever seen God or has evidence that he even
exists. But despite these uncertainties, masses of people believe in him and dedicate their lives to following
him. There is nothing wrong with people needing to believe in something or someone else. For many people,
God fulfills that necessity.

Vladimir and Estragon live their lives around the anticipation they feel for Godot's arrival. Their strong
eagerness to meet Godot creates the basis of their decision-making in life. Vladimir and Estragon are
determined to meet Godot. They will not leave even when they become anxious to do something else. Godot
gives them purpose. Without their belief in Godot, their every day actions would have no meaning because
they would lead to nothing. Because they are waiting for Godot, they have motivation behind each thing they
do. Vladimir and Estragon are united by their belief in Godot, thus they stay together to wait for him.

Just as Estragon and Vladimir are united by their belief in Godot, people are united by their belief in God.

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Consider Catholics, they are unified as a religious group. They gather together to share their beliefs at church
and they live their lives under the same basic principles as one another.
The tree in Waiting For Godot represents faith. If Vladimir and Estragon detour from the tree, they may miss
out on Godot. If people detour from their faith, there is chance they will not be received by God.

Estragon: Charming Spot. (He turns, advances to front)

Inspiring prospects. Let's go.

Vladimir: We can't.

Estragon: Why not?

Vladimir: We're waiting for Godot.

Estragon: (despairingly) Ah! You're sure it was here?

Vladimir: What?

Estragon: That we were to wait.

Vladimir: He said by the tree. (Beckett 10)

As Estragon looks away from the tree he becomes a bit anxious to leave and try a new place. But Vladimir
reminds him that they are there to wait for Godot. It can become extremely difficult at times for people to
follow the rules of their faith. Sometimes they want to try new things; it becomes tempting to detour from
their faith. But, it is God who outlined the faith in which people are to follow; the rules people are supposed to
obey. By ignoring his wishes and deviating from the faith, you may lose your chance to see God in the end.

Waiting For Godot, while it expresses that religion is necessary and gives purpose to life, also criticizes
religion. While Vladimir and Estragon wait by the tree for Godot to appear, they meet two other characters.
"Pozzo drives Lucky by means of a rope passed

around his neck, so that Lucky is first to enter, followed by the rope... Lucky carries a heavy bag, a folding
stool, a picnic basket and a greatcoat, Pozzo a whip" (Beckett 15). I believe that Pozzo represents the Pope in
Catholicism while Lucky represents the extreme religious followers. Lucky, being tied to Pozzo with a rope,
shows the enormous control that the Pope has over Catholics. They will do anything and believe anything
that the Pope says. They blindly follow the Pope and do what he wishes with no questions asked. Meanwhile,
Lucky carries all the baggage of Pozzo. It shows that the Pope has his followers do all the hard work while he
stands there and gives orders. Pozzo has a whip in which he will use on Lucky if he gets out of hand. This
demonstrates the overwhelming power the Pope has over the people; he will not accept any misbehaviors.
He wants to keep the people in line, so that he can continue to benefit from their actions.

Lucky speaks very seldom during the entire book and when he does speak, he will only do so when Pozzo
tells him to. This shows that the people will not think for themselves unless they are forced to do so. The
extreme catholic followers are so bombarded by the thoughts and beliefs of the Pope that they often forget
that they are able to examine how they feel towards ideas themselves. Something interesting is that when
Lucky does have permission to speak, he will only do so when he is wearing his hat. I think that the hat acts
as a barrier, which blocks out the thoughts of Pozzo, and allows Lucky to think for himself.

"Vladimir: Tell him to think.

Pozzo: Give him his hat.

Vladimir: His hat?

Pozzo: He cant think without his hat" (Beckett 27).

The hat, in a sense, represents enlightenment. When he wears the hat, he has the knowledge to speak. When
you are enlightened, you have the knowledge to do things. In the book, both Vladimir and Estragon fight
Lucky for the hat, which shows that enlightenment is highly desired. It is enlightenment that blocks out the
thoughts of the Pope and frees people from ideology.

Not only does Beckett criticize Catholicism through the Pope, but he also makes reference to the fact that
the Pope's religious followers do no want to face reality. Lucky begins to cry at one point: "Estragon
approaches Lucky and makes to wipe his eyes.

Lucky kicks him violently in the shins" (Beckett 21). This is shocking at first to read because it is usually
inconceivable that when a person tries to help someone who is sad, it results in a direct attack on him or her.
Beckett wants his audience to see how ridiculous these actions are. As Lucky cries, his tears act as a shield
for his eyes and he is blinded from the things, which he does not wish to see. When Estragon goes to wipe
away his tears, he fights back to stop him. Parallel this to Catholicism; the extreme followers of the Pope are
blinded by everything the Pope says. They believe every word he delivers and they do not question his
authority what so ever. When other people try to unveil the truth and open up their eyes to what is really going
on; the corruption of the Pope, the extreme followers do not want to hear it. They rather stay in denial and
believe that the Pope and all corresponding fundamentals in their life are as they should be. They do not want
to admit that there is any problem or fault with their world.

Samuel Beckett wrote the story Waiting For Godot for one reason, to be able to express his opinion on
religious faith in society. Characters like Vladimir and Estragon demonstrate the never-ending human instinct
to believe in something more, to have faith that there is something better in the end. Characters like Pozzo
and Lucky exhibit Beckett's criticism of Catholicism, with too much power being given to the Pope and not
enough independent thinking of his loyal followers. Beckett does not want to blatantly state to the world his
opinion. He wants his readers to search deeply into the allegorical scheme of the book and determine for
themselves what he is trying to express. I believe that Samuel Beckett's waiting for Godot is an amazing
example of great allegorical literature.

Works Cited
1. Beckett, Samuel. Waiting For Godot. New York: Grove Press, 1954.

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