A Quote on Adversity

"Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers" -John Wooden

Monday, April 14, 2014

Waiting for Happiness: Examining Waiting for Godot and Adversity

Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is unique. It is unlike any other play to have ever hit the stage. The characters, the setting, and plot are increasingly static and lack life. However, the play, like an onion, has many layers to it. There is an abundance of meanings, archetypes, and interpretations beneath the surface of Beckett’s tragicomedy. Some might point out that the characters fail to encounter misfortune and that Beckett’s masterpiece is completely devoid of any kind of adversity. This is not the case. The very adversity that Didi and Gogo come face to face with is the vicious, seemingly unending cycle they go through everyday; and, when confronted with this cycle, they fail miserably.

The lives of Didi and Gogo are perpetually in a state of stasis. There is no change. There is no growth. There is no action. They go through the same detrimental cycle each day, all in hopes of meeting Godot. It is this “waiting” that is the source of their distress. By waiting, Didi and Gogo are stuck longing for the next day. Most of all, they fail to truly live life to the fullest. The tunnel vision that they develop blocks out the beauty of life and places the their focus solely on one thing, Godot. In essence, they are focusing on the backdrop of the Mona Lisa and ignoring the true beauty of Mona which is right in front of their eyes. Although the adversity they encounter isn’t the prototypical dragon or evil mastermind, they still come face to face with catastrophe. The only problem, however, is that they fail to detect even this. 

When faced with certain doom, Didi and Gogo fail in a way only they can. The main reason for their failure is that they fail to take action and be proactive in their quest for Godot. The duo decide to leave it all up to destiny when it comes to Godot and they pay dearly for it. They pay in that are stuck in Groundhog Day-type of day in and day out living. Things fail to advance because they don’t seek out change, despite the numerous opportunities for innovation that present themselves. As the play moves along, the two become increasingly static and this is what makes them fail when confronted with extreme challenge. Nothing will change unless they do.

Waiting for Godot is a story about the greatest adversity of all time, living without purpose. Sadly, Didi and Gogo succumb to this disaster and prove to be poster boys for the life without meaning. They put their happiness with a man that never shows up, instead of putting it where it counts, within themselves. As Aristotle once said “Happiness depends upon ourselves.”

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