The general outlook of the Theatre of the absurd is pessimistic. For the universe is seen as inexplicable and meaningless. Existence is determined purely by the choices and decisions made by the individual, but freedom of choice leaves man in a permanent state of anxiety, as the only thing we can know about the future is that we will die and return to nothingness. The life of Beckett’s characters is purposeless and their contact with other people is almost non-existent. The characters wait for Godot to arrive, but he never does and nothing is learnt about who he is or if he really exists.
Much of the dialogue is repetitive and meaningless. The characters’ behaviour can’t be understood. There is no plot with a beginning, a middle and an end. The style is surreal. It is pervaded with grotesque humour, mixed with a tragic and desperate tone. Beckett’s pessimism refers to the dreariness and meaninglessness of human life. This is evident in Lucky’s monologue, which refers to the absence of God and certainty, the growing impotence of man in modern world which is ruled by chaos, as war has deprived man of faith in science, progress and justice.
Lucky’s monologue contains a mass of incoherent words, repeated concepts, fragments of sentences and the final meaningless words, in a powerful mix of humour and pathos, but in its confusion it shows that life is confusion, there are no more values and there is complete lack of communication. Beckett wants to point out that life has lost its sense after the horrific experience of the war. As a matter of fact, the second world war transformed the thought of many artists and intellectuals.
Before the war they believed in the perfectibility of social man and in the good produced by a correct structure of society. The war made them aware that the average man was deeply sick, so they developed a pessimistic view of the human race and human behaviour. Nothing much happens in the play. Therefore Beckett’s play is revolutionary because it rejected the traditional conventions of realistic drama, such as a well-constructed plot and a rational, articulate language.
The theme of waiting is a metaphor for human existence and the play basically deals with the problem of getting through life after World War II. The answer is simple and discouraging: life goes on by force of habit, in spite of boredom, pain and hopelessness. The two tramps, Vladimir and Estragon, don’t have clear personalities nor are based on social types. They are connected by a relationship of interdependence, wanting to leave each other and yet dependent on each other.
They spend their time talking purposelessly, waiting for someone who could solve their problems but never comes. Their repetitive ritual of gestures and actions is a symbol of the meaninglessness of human existence in the void of values left in modern society after WWII. Language is no longer a means of communication and underlines lack of communication instead. The play reflects the nightmares created by a spiritual wasteland. It gave voice to the anguish of the audience who had lived through the tragedy of WWII and the nightmarish dropping of atomic bombs in Japan in 1945.
The sterility of the modern world described in the Waste Land is recalled in the bare setting of WFG, adorned of a single tree which seems to be alive, because it has four or five leaves, but doesn’t give the solace of nature, only misery and a metaphor of impending suicide, which reveals all its uselessness. Therefore, “The waste land” is a comment on the futility of civilization after WWI and the emptiness and confusion of contemporary life. Similarly, Beckett’s WFG, with its broken dialogues, full of pauses and silence, expresses the void which is slowly swallowing the modern world.