The context in which the play was written : the aftermath of ww2 with its tragic revelations – apocalyptic. The discovery of a Nazi atrocities, and the invention of the atomic bomb,creating a sense of a generalisation of horror. The play is set in a ‘shelter’ which can only evoke a situation of war or of post nuclear apocalypse, the comments on all that is gone is evocative of thenuclear annihilation. All the more so with the Cold War, which started just after the end of World War II and was at a peak in 1953, with the war in Korea. The victory of the allies over the threat ofthe destruction of civilisation by Hitler and what it meant in terms of the clarification of moral landmarks was soon to be blurred again by the division between the former allies and the appearanceof a new enemy. The victory of good over evil is an illusion, since the ‘goodies’ will split between good and bad, and be at war and so on. The sense of the impossibility of a resolution and arelativity of moral values – interestingly the idea of a morality of situations, a morality that can only make sense in a context which is played out, links intrinsically the idea of existentialism and thetheater.
The two main readings of the play that followed on its creation are that of the theatre of the absurd, and that of adorno:
The opposition, which is not so much the responsibility of MartinEsslin who doesn’t associate existentialist drama and the theatre of the absurd will be a lasting divide in criticism of the play. On the one hand, there is the idea that the play expresses aphilosophical message, on the other the absence of message, the impossibility of meaning (it is laughed at in the play). In the case of Godot there was the notion that Godot could only refer to transcendenceand therefore the play expressed the need for the hope of a form of divinity, in a similar vein to Pascal’s ‘pari’
Pesons le gain et la perte, en prenant choix que Dieu est. Estimons ces deux...
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