Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett may be observed as a meaningless play with its sole purpose being humor by some; however, the significance of the literature is open for interpretation. The characters of Estragon and Vladimir are delusional and helplessly waiting for someone, for whom they have absolutely no knowledge of. The setting consists of a country road and merely a tree. The tree is the only distinct object present throughout the two act play; therefore I believe it has a purpose. This lone tree serves as a major symbol of hope, which enlarges the literal meaning of the play. However one interprets Godot can also change how one see’s the tree as a symbol.
Throughout the play, Vladimir and Estragon appear hopeless and aloof. Time has no meaning (the characters have faulty memories), and they do not have a purpose in life as we observe, other than to pass the time “waiting for Godot” .There are many biblical references in the play which can directly relate the tree to the crucifixion. It is a theory that Vladimir and Estragon represent the pair of thieves who were crucified on each side of Jesus (one was dammed and the other was saved). In this case, we do not know if either Vladimir or Estragon fits this theory because the fate of their characters is never revealed by the end of the play. In midst of their boredom, the two friends contemplate whether or not to hang themselves from the tree. This can also be viewed as a reference to the crucifix, but it parodies the religious significance.
In between Act I and Act II, the tree has sprouted leaves, which is odd because it was completely bare the day before. This highlights the theme of time, and how the characters lack the essence of time. Vladimir observes the tree for a few moments at the beginning of Act II, but he is distracted by Estragon’s entrance. The two never mention or discuss the obvious change in the tree, even though they spent the entire day before next to the same tree. They are not aware of the life they have, or the meaning of being an individual. The sprouting of the tree represents rebirth and life; it emphasizes the theme of hope. It is suiting that Vladimir and Estragon do not notice the change because they have not gained any knowledge as to why they are waiting and who for, which adds irony to the play.
Could Beckett be using Vladimir and Estragon to represent mankind as a whole? It is possible he chose a simple setting so the audience could relate the play to their own lives. Are you letting life pass you by just waiting for something to happen? Or will you accept that hope is always right next to you (the tree) and act upon it? Waiting for Godot is a literary work that can be interpreted in a substantial amount of ways.
The importance of symbolism in any piece of writing was surely brought to my attention while studying this play. The plot would not have as much substance without the tree because it is the only object in the setting, and it would be more difficult to connect the many religious references. All in all, the tree serves as an imperative symbol throughout Waiting for Godot, which allows the audience to create their own analyses of Beckett’s work.