How Does Waiting for Godot Illustrate Existentialism?


Martha Robinson

Waiting for Godot is a play by Samuel Beckett, which was first performed in 1953. It is a play that has been described as one of the most significant works of existentialism.

The play is about two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, who are waiting for someone called Godot. The play is set on a barren land with a tree in the middle and the two characters engage in various activities while they wait for Godot.


Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual freedom and choice. It suggests that humans are free to create their own meaning in life because there is no inherent meaning or purpose to life. Therefore, individuals must create their own values and live according to them.

How Waiting for Godot Illustrates Existentialism

The play Waiting for Godot illustrates existentialism in various ways.

1. Lack of Meaning

The play portrays the concept of lack of meaning that exists in existentialism. Vladimir and Estragon keep waiting for Godot but he never arrives.

The audience never knows who Godot is or what he represents. This emphasizes that there may not be any inherent meaning or purpose to life – it is up to individuals to create their own meaning.

2. Freedom of Choice

The characters’ actions show the freedom of choice that exists within existentialism. Vladimir and Estragon are free to leave at any time, but they choose to stay and wait for Godot because they believe he will bring some sort of resolution or purpose into their lives.

3. Individual Responsibility

The play also emphasizes individual responsibility which is another key aspect of existentialism. The characters are responsible for their own lives, choices, and actions. They cannot blame anyone else for their situation as they have chosen to wait for Godot rather than taking control of their lives and making something happen.

4. Absurdity of Life

The play illustrates the absurdity of life which is another concept in existentialism. The characters engage in meaningless activities like removing their shoes, eating carrots, and talking to each other about nothing in particular. This highlights that life can be absurd and meaningless, but individuals must find their own purpose and meaning to create a fulfilling life for themselves.

5. No Fixed Reality

The play highlights the non-existence of a fixed reality which is another key concept in existentialism. Vladimir and Estragon have different perspectives on the same events that occur during their wait for Godot. This emphasizes that there is no fixed reality and individuals must interpret events according to their own perspectives.


In conclusion, Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett illustrates various concepts of existentialism such as lack of meaning, freedom of choice, individual responsibility, absurdity of life, and no fixed reality. The play suggests that humans are free to create their own meaning in life as there may not be any inherent meaning or purpose to it. Individuals must take responsibility for their lives and choices while finding purpose despite the absurdity that might exist.