The theme of Humor and the Absurd in Waiting for Godot from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

Waiting for Godot

Themes and Colors
Humor and the Absurd Theme Icon
Waiting, Boredom, and Nihilism Theme Icon
Modernism and Postmodernism Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
Humanity, Companionship, Suffering, and Dignity Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Waiting for Godot, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Humor and the Absurd Theme Icon

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.

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Humor and the Absurd ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Humor and the Absurd appears in each act of Waiting for Godot. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Humor and the Absurd Quotes in Waiting for Godot

Below you will find the important quotes in Waiting for Godot related to the theme of Humor and the Absurd.
Act 1 Quotes

One daren't even laugh any more.
Dreadful privation.
Merely smile. (He smiles suddenly from ear to ear, keeps smiling, ceases as suddenly.) It's not the same thing. Nothing to be done.

Related Characters: Estragon (speaker), Vladimir (speaker)
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
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What do we do now?
Wait.
Yes, but while waiting.
What about hanging ourselves?
Hmm. It'd give us an erection.

Related Characters: Estragon (speaker), Vladimir (speaker)
Page Number: 12
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To Godot? Tied to Godot! What an idea! No question of it. (Pause.) For the moment.

Related Characters: Vladimir (speaker), Godot
Page Number: 17
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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!

Related Characters: Pozzo (speaker), Estragon, Vladimir
Page Number: 19
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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.

Related Characters: Pozzo (speaker), Lucky
Page Number: 30
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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.

Related Characters: Pozzo (speaker), Lucky
Page Number: 32
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(to Lucky.) How dare you! It's abominable! Such a good master! Crucify him like that! After so many years! Really!

Related Characters: Vladimir (speaker), Pozzo, Lucky
Page Number: 34
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He thinks?
Certainly. Aloud. He even used to think very prettily once, I could listen to him for hours. Now... (he shudders).

Related Characters: Vladimir (speaker), Pozzo (speaker)
Page Number: 41
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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.

Related Characters: Estragon (speaker), Vladimir (speaker), Pozzo (speaker), Lucky
Page Number: 42
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Then adieu.
Adieu.
Adieu.
Adieu.
Silence. No one moves.
Adieu.
Adieu.
Adieu.
Silence.

Related Characters: Estragon (speaker), Vladimir (speaker), Pozzo (speaker)
Page Number: 50
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Let's go.
We can't.
Why not?
We're waiting for Godot.

Related Characters: Estragon (speaker), Vladimir (speaker), Godot
Page Number: 51
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Mr. Godot told me to tell you he won't come this evening but surely tomorrow.

Related Characters: Boy (speaker), Godot
Page Number: 55
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Tell him... (he hesitates)... tell him you saw us. (Pause.) You did see us, didn't you?

Related Characters: Vladimir (speaker), Godot, Boy
Page Number: 56
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Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
They do not move.

Related Characters: Estragon (speaker), Vladimir (speaker)
Page Number: 59
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Act 2 Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Estragon (speaker), Vladimir (speaker)
Page Number: 66
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The best thing would be to kill me, like the other.
What other? (Pause.) What other?
Like billions of others.

Related Characters: Estragon (speaker), Vladimir (speaker)
Page Number: 68
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Suppose we got up to begin with?
No harm trying.
They get up.
Child's play.
Simple question of will-power.

Related Characters: Estragon (speaker), Vladimir (speaker)
Page Number: 96
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Well? Shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
They do not move.

Related Characters: Estragon (speaker), Vladimir (speaker)
Page Number: 109
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