Study Guide

Waiting for Godot Life, Consciousness, and Existence

By Samuel Beckett

Life, Consciousness, and Existence

The portrait of daily life painted by Waiting for Godot is a dismal one. It is repetitive and stagnant. It lacks meaning and purpose and entails perpetual suffering. The solution (which none of the characters take) would seem to be action and choice despite the ever-presence of uncertainty, and an awareness of one’s surroundings and past actions. As one character says, "habit is a great deadener"—our actions should stem from conscious choice rather than apathy.

Questions About Life, Consciousness, and Existence

  1. What is the value of life in Waiting for Godot?
  2. Pozzo claims that life has no meaning because it is fleeting; Vladimir counters that life has no meaning because we deadened it with habit. Which statement, if either, does the play support?
  3. Vladimir wonders toward the end of Act 2 whether or not he is even awake. Why does it take him until now to ask this question? What has happened over the course of the play that might have led him to this doubt? Does asking this question symbolize any sort of transition for him?

Chew on This

The barren setting of Waiting for Godot is proof that Vladimir and Estragon will never be able to break their cycle of inactive waiting; it negates the possibility of life or creation.

Suffering is a necessary and constant state for all men in the world of Waiting for Godot.