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Religion in "Waiting for Godot"

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on 1 December 2013

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Transcript of Religion in "Waiting for Godot"

Religion in "Waiting for
God
ot"

Religion is openly discussed by Beckett's characters in Waiting for Godot. However the theme's greatest impact can be seen when looking deeper into the text, and reading in between the lines... In example...
VLADIMIR
(musingly) The last moment . . . (He meditates.) Hope deferred maketh the something sick, who said that?
VLADIMIR
Did you ever read the Bible?
ESTRAGON
The Bible . . . (He reflects.) I must have taken a look at it.
VLADIMIR
Do you remember the Gospels?
ESTRAGON
I remember the maps of the Holy Land. Coloured they were. Very pretty. The Dead Sea was pale blue. The very look of it made me thirsty. That's where we'll go, I used to say, that's where we'll go for our honeymoon. We'll swim. We'll be happy.
ESTRAGON
What exactly did we ask him [Godot] for?
VLADIMIR
Were you not there?
ESTRAGON
I can't have been listening.
VLADIMIR
Oh . . . Nothing very definite.
ESTRAGON
A kind of prayer.
VLADIMIR
Precisely.
ESTRAGON
A vague supplication
Despite what the back of the book says, Beckett gives some hints that GODot has something to do with GOD. Case in point, Estragon says they have offered a
prayer
to Godot.

The problem is, they don’t seem to know exactly what they’ve prayed for. In a way, this exchange mocks religion for its inherent uncertainty.
The heavenly image that Estragon presents here enforces, by contrasting, the dismal nature of his current situation.
Actually... we find the line should be:

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life,"

...and it’s a Biblical proverb. If 'Dido' and 'Gogo’s' hope is for Godot to appear, then as we know, they are at a lost cause - Godot never comes.

As for the tree of life, the tree on stage when Vladimir utters his line, is not so much a tree of life as it is a dead, shrub-looking thing.
Religion is incompatible with reason in Waiting for Godot. Characters who attempt to understand religion logically are left in the dark, and the system is compared to such absurd banalities as switching bowler hats or taking a boot on and off. Religion is also tied to uncertainty, since there is no way of knowing what is objectively true in the realm of faith.
Religion
Beckett uses imagery from the bible that suggests a link between his play and religion
VLADIMIR
(to Lucky) How dare you! It's abominable! Such a good master! Crucify him like that! After so many years! Really!
Vladimir draws a comparison between Pozzo and Christ with his use of the word "crucify."
Another good speech for
hidden examples, that suggest religious messages, is Lucky's speech in Act 1
LUCKY
Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann of a personal God quaquaquaqua with white beard quaquaquaqua outside time without extension who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions for reasons unknown but time will tell and suffers like the divine Miranda with those who for reasons unknown but time will tell are plunged in torment plunged in fire whose fire flames if that continues and who can doubt it will fire the firmament that is to say blast hell to heaven so blue still and calm so calm with a calm […]
Lucky’s speech may appear to be mostly nonsense, but look at how he starts off. His mention of "a personal God" with a "white beard" is what later prompts Vladimir to ask the Boy if Godot has a white beard. With the whole speech we can too pull out "Given the existence [...] of a personal God [...] outside time [...] who [...] loves us dearly, amongst many other messages. The play is open to interpretation...
VLADIMIR
But you can't go barefoot!
ESTRAGON
Christ did.
VLADIMIR
Christ! What has Christ got to do with it. You're not going to compare yourself to Christ!
ESTRAGON
All my life I've compared myself to him.
If Waiting for Godot until now compared the suffering of the men on stage to the suffering of Christ, it is now condemning that very comparison. This is in keeping with the presentation of religion as illogical and contradictory.
ESTRAGON
And if we dropped [Godot]? (Pause.) If we dropped him?
VLADIMIR
He'd punish us.
Vladimir doesn’t know anything about Godot – what he looks like, who he is, and he even at one point suggests an uncertainty as to the man’s name. Yet Vladimir seems undeniably certain about his fear, which means he is certain of Godot’s power, if nothing else - remind you of anyone? oh yeah...
God
Full transcript