“The Human Condition” in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot

Abstract

In his essay about two brother-painters, the van Velde brothers, Samuel Beckett presents a view that both of them share a profound interest in "the human condition" which precedes their interest in painting. This view is related to Beckett’s own conception of art. He himself was interested in "the human condition" in his creation of art. Beckett experienced the devastating situation in the Second World War. Through his work (e.g., Waiting for Godot, Endgame, and Happy Days) he explored the condition of those who survive in the world in its extremity. This paper sheds light on “the human condition” depicted in Waiting for Godot and examines how it is linked to the question of human finitude. In this play two tramps, abandoned in a vast ruinous space, wait for the arrival of someone named Godot. A distinctive characteristic of this play is that "the human condition" is revealed in the act of waiting. Here the act of waiting means last ounce of belief in the world where they live. In this sense, "the human condition" appears as "the link between man and the world" (Deleuze). The "human condition" disclosed in this act of waiting involves human finitude. By analyzing specific scenes, the paper discusses the link between “the human condition” and finitude in this play in light of Steven Connor’s observation on Beckett’s "radical finitude". Connor describes it as "this in-between condition – never at home in the world, but unable to be anywhere else than in the world".



Author Information
Michiko Tsushima, University of Tsuskuba, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2020
Stream: Literature/Literary Studies

This paper is part of the ACAH2020 Conference Proceedings (View)
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