Vladimir and Estragon live - Sample Essay
Furthermore, the search for confirmation of existence is apparent in the characters Vladimir and Estragon. The fact that they are living in a bare setting already gives them a lack of identity. Yet, they have an identity and know who they are by their names; they just crave confirmation from each other. The two characters are extremely sensitive and vulnerable which is why they can never leave each others’ sides; they feel weak alone. This neediness shows a sufficient lack of individuality. For example, at the beginning of the play Estragon questions his presence;
VLADIMIR: “So there you are again” ESTRAGON: “Am I?”They then state how happy they are to be “together again at last!”7 after Estragon has been away one night. This proves that they seek companionship from one another. Vladimir is caring and protective of Estragon, whereas Estragon is needier and often experiences memory loss. Memory loss, in this case, symbolizes a loss of a certain part of identity, because remembering the past is a key to knowing who you are and if you exist. They often forget what they have done, shown in their repetition of the same scenario daily and in the fact that they cannot remember their age when Pozzo asks:
POZZO: “What age would you say he was?” ESTRAGON: “Eleven”8 Clearly he is not eleven because they are fully grown men. When Vladimir asks the boy, “I’ve seen you before, haven’t I… You don’t know me?” he replies “No, sir”9; we further see that although they know that they are Vladimir and Estragon, they need other people to acknowledge them as individuals. This is so that they can gain their sense of self and therefore feel that they exist as members of society.
Godot is the title character of the play even though he is never seen or heard. He is waited for by Vladimir and Estragon for the duration of the play. Godot seems to be an indefinite figure. At the end of each day, the boy arrives on behalf of Godot with a promise that he will come tomorrow. However, Godot will never come and Vladimir and Estragon will never be sure of this because there always seems to be some reason or hope to wait for him. The fact that they ask; “His name is Godot?”10and state that “Personally I wouldn’t even know him if I saw him”11 could argue the point that Godot may have come today but they did not realize, and give them more reason to wait. They wait in hope because they believe that Godot can ultimately confirm their existence by coming to rescue them from the daily problems they face.
Unlike the other explorations of identity, Godot’s identity is questioned from an external point of view. His identity only exists through the words of his followers: Vladimir and Estragon and the boy. I believe that Godot is not supposed to come at all and that he/she/it can not be made to represent any one idea, ideal or person, precisely because he represents an absence and does not have a confirmed identity. Godot is an indefinite figure, (unlike Vladimir and Estragon), whose non-presence is the play’s centre.
I believe that both plays address the human condition. “Waiting for Godot” and “King Oedipus” prove that we appear to be born without complete awareness of our selves and the environment we live in. In growing as humans, we gain a sense of identity; however, this sense may be full of illusions. Vladimir and Estragon live in an empty world that does not have many characteristics from which they can draw a sense of identity; in a world where there is no importance of work and achievement, and where nothing is certain. They accept violence, live without amenities, fill their time with irrelevant and repetitive business, and are living in hope of an indefinite figure that will never come and save them.
In contrast, Oedipus, as a king, lives in a world where he has everything that Vladimir and Estragon do not. However, he too has an illusory identity and the same need for a sense of self. Ironically, his outcome is more tragic, as he loses everything because he finds his true identity, where as Vladimir and Estragon lose nothing. They continue their lives in exactly the same way as when they started.