Waiting for Godot is a prime example of what has come to be known as the theater of the absurd. The play is filled with nonsensical lines, wordplay, meaningless dialogue, and characters who abruptly shift emotions and forget everything, ranging from their own identities to what happened yesterday. All of this contributes to an absurdist humor throughout the play. However, this humor is often uncomfortably mixed together with tragic or serious content to make a darker kind of comedy. Estragon refers to "billions of others," who have been killed, and describes being beaten by an anonymous "they." Lucky (whose ill-fitting name is itself darkly comic) is treated horribly and physically abused on-stage. And Vladimir and Estragon talk nonchalantly and pleasantly about suicide. All this has a discomforting effect on the audience, who is not sure how to react to this absurd mixture of comedy and tragedy, seriousness and playfulness. In act one, Vladimir says, "one daren't even laugh any more," and his comment could apply well to the audience of Beckett's play, who don't know whether to laugh or to cringe at the events on-stage. The absurdity caused by the seeming mismatch between characters' tones and the content of their speech can be seen as a reaction to a world emptied of meaning and significance. If the world is meaningless, it makes no sense to see it as comic or tragic, good or bad. Beckett thus presents an eerie play that sits uneasily on the border between tragedy and comedy, in territory one can only call the absurd.
Humor and the Absurd ThemeTracker
Humor and the Absurd Quotes in Waiting for Godot
One daren't even laugh any more.
Merely smile. (He smiles suddenly from ear to ear, keeps smiling, ceases as suddenly.) It's not the same thing. Nothing to be done.
What do we do now?
Yes, but while waiting.
What about hanging ourselves?
Hmm. It'd give us an erection.
To Godot? Tied to Godot! What an idea! No question of it. (Pause.) For the moment.
You are human beings none the less. (He puts on his glasses.) As far as one can see. (He takes off his glasses.) of the same species as myself. (He bursts into an enormous laugh.) Of the same species as Pozzo! Made in God's image!
Why he doesn't make himself comfortable? Let's try and get this clear. Has he not the right to? Certainly he has. It follows that he doesn't want to. There's reasoning for you.
The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep, somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh. (He laughs.) Let us not then speak ill of our generation, it is not unhappier than its predecessors. (Pause.) Let us not speak well of it either. (Pause.) Let us not speak of it at all.
(to Lucky.) How dare you! It's abominable! Such a good master! Crucify him like that! After so many years! Really!
Certainly. Aloud. He even used to think very prettily once, I could listen to him for hours. Now... (he shudders).
He used to dance the farandole, the fling, the brawl, the jig, the fandango, and even the hornpipe. He capered. For joy. Now that's the best he can do. Do you know what he calls it?
The Scapegoat's Agony.
The Hard Stool.
The Net. He thinks he's entangled in a net.
Silence. No one moves.
We're waiting for Godot.
Mr. Godot told me to tell you he won't come this evening but surely tomorrow.
Tell him... (he hesitates)... tell him you saw us. (Pause.) You did see us, didn't you?
Say, I am happy.
I am happy.
So am I.
So am I.
We are happy.
We are happy. (Silence.) What do we do now, now that we are happy?
Wait for Godot.
The best thing would be to kill me, like the other.
What other? (Pause.) What other?
Like billions of others.
Suppose we got up to begin with?
No harm trying.
They get up.
Simple question of will-power.