Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot

2438 Words10 Pages
Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot are representative works of two separate movements in literature: Modernism and Post-Modernism. Defining both movements in their entirety, or arguing whether either work is truly representative of the classifications of Modernism and Post-Modernism, is not the purpose of this paper; rather, the purpose is to carefully evaluate how both works, in the context of both works being representative of their respective traditions, employ the use of symbolism and allusion. Beckett’s play uses “semantic association” in order to convey meaning in its use of symbolism; Woolf’s novel employs a more traditional mode of conveying meaning in its own use: that is, the meaning of…show more content…
However, the audience also construes this exchange as “a general statement about life” (Sherzer 133). Perhaps the audience sees this event as symbolic of life’s difficulties: that sometimes, when one figures overcoming a problem is impossible, other avenues can be tried in order to find peace, salvation, success, etc. Beckett creates dialogue that, on the surface, can be read as mundane, daily descriptions of life; while at the same time the dialogue can be read as profound commentaries.

It is the audience, though, that projects meaning onto the dialogue; Beckett himself gives no indication that Estragon or Vladimir are in fact attempting to convey anything profound. This is of course not to say that there is no authorial technique in the play or text itself. As Sherzer states, “Speech is the animating principle of Waiting for Godot” (Sherzer 129). What is meant is that Beckett constructs dialogue in such a way that the audience reacts to it; the play is not merely random words written on the page. When Estragon asks Vladimir, “Hope deferred maketh the something sick, who said that?” Vladimir replies, “Why don’t you help me?” to which Estragon states, “Sometimes I feel it coming all the same. Then I go all queer”

More about Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot

Open Document