Godot Archetype Man and Everyman Term Paper
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Many archetypal Seers are physically blind, as is Pozzo in the second act, and at the same time Pozzo is more able to see the world beyond the stage and the present moment than are Estragon and Vladimir. Again, however, Beckett breaks the mold of the traditional Seer by making Pozzo almost villainous, especially in his treatment of Lucky, and by refraining form having him dispense any real and direct lessons. In a play and a world where such lessons cannot exist, it would be impossible for this character to fully measure up to the archetype of the Seer.
Lucky himself is also an archetype, that of the slave. The archetypal slave is not the somewhat romanticized figure of injustice striving towards freedom, but rather a peon that is not only reigned to but even defensive of its fate, not fully realizing -- or realizing and consciously rejecting -- the joys and the attendant burdens and responsibilities of freedom. Led -- or leading -- by a rope, Lucky snaps at those that try to help or defend him, and wants only to please his master, the oft-abusive Pozzo. By giving Lucky a certain amount of power and strength over Pozzo on the second act, during the latter's blindness, Beckett is again warping the archetype of the slave and actually making it even more poignant by showing the slave in a position where mastery is truly and finally attainable, and yet Lucky still makes no move towards it. This is perhaps the ultimate comment n pointlessness in the play.
One of the more minor characters in the play is the boy, who appears at the end of each act simply to let Vladimir and Estragon know that Godot will not be arriving "today," but that he will definitely be coming "tomorrow." Given the overall tenor of the play, one of course doubts whether or not this "tomorrow" will ever come, and this makes the archetype that this boy represents at once more interesting and more superfluous.
The Herald is a fairly common character in many works of literature, and especially in plays, serving to bring news and make announcements that lead to major plot shifts. This occurs here, too, but the plot shift is the continued disappointment of the main characters. This herald brings news, in other words, that nothing has happened -- an exact and poignant twist of his usual message.
The final character in this play, the title character, in fact, is the only one that never actually appears onstage. The Godot that has so long been waited for, and that fulfills -- or would fulfill -- the Savior archetype in the play is conspicuously and very purposefully absent. Godot's role as the erstwhile savior of the play is fairly clear; Estragon and Vladimir are waiting for him to provide the answers and direction to their lives. Though the purpose of their meeting is never explicitly stated, the fact that these two continue to wait for him day after day, and base their entire lives around his imminently expected arrival, clearly signal his importance to them and is directly evocative of the expectations of the second coming of Jesus, or the coming of the Messiah in the larger Judeo-Christian tradition. The fact that the Savior does not ever come, but that the two men continue to wait for him in the same sort of languishing hope, is Beckett's final bitter commentary on the emptiness of life.
Though far from the most optimistic piece of drama ever written, Beckett provides a very thought-provoking, complex, and even humorous view of humanity in his masterpiece, Waiting for Godot. A large part of this effect comes form his warping of standard human archetypes into new forms that resonate more deeply and completely with the world he has created in this play. As both an exercise in existentialist philosophy and a compelling piece of drama, the use of the archetypes and the changes wrought amongst them make this a work of strong tradition and innovation.
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