Western Civilization Essay
Waiting for Godot – This play by Samuel Beckett is about two tramps who are sitting under a tree, waiting for a certain M. Godot to arrive (Bloom). The story of the play revolves around them and the things they do. While waiting for the same man to arrive, they do a lot of talking about the things around them. They would argue and quarrel, but later on make up. One contemplates suicide, while the other one talks him out of it. Other characters shown were a master named Pozzo, and a slave named Lucky. Finally, a young boy arrives to announce that M. Godot will not come by today, but instead will arrive tomorrow.
Indeed, the play is the title’s development, of the waiting part and not the arrival of Godot. In this play, Godot is nothing but a titular term, since the focus is not the person being waited upon, but the people waiting for him. The two tramps waiting for Godot are somehow dressed in a comedic fashion, and are very much laughable than be taken seriously. But the language used in the play had strength and intensity that would easily overshadow their physical appearance. The play is very simple, in the sense of history it portrays, which is why it can be viewed under the classical French playwriting tradition.
The setting of the play is downright depressing, somehow ironic to the tramps waiting there. The tree is like a place dead and forgotten, which would somehow invite any of these poor souls to commit suicide. If you are to look at the place closely, one may think that a certain M. Godot would not come by here or not choose this as a place to meet. Perhaps the tramps are there for their last hope; somehow M. Godot would be a man to help them. Or perhaps he wouldn’t really come, and that the next day, another boy would just arrive and tell them he’s coming the day after.
It is somehow up to them to keep their hopes up, and wait endlessly for Godot. The Western culture and society, as portrayed here in Waiting for Godot, is not all that glorious. Despite the wealthy, prosperous image being associated with the west, there are still those who suffer from poverty, people like the two tramps in the play. These are the ones who would bite any opportunity that comes their way, as shown in the play, where they wait for Godot, even with the uncertainty of him coming. The characters shown in the play were opposites, a take on the existence of opposing ideas of Renaissance.
Estragon, one of the tramps, is less confident, less hopeful and contemplates of hanging himself. The other one, Vladimir, is more hopeful, and has somehow talked the other out of committing suicide. Renaissance in the Western culture is the rebirth of ideas and hopes, and the play Waiting for Godot is a proof of this. Civilization and Its Discontents – In this essay, Freud contends that mankind’s dissatisfied, hostile, and violent nature results from the conflict of his sexual needs and the mores established by his society (Freud and Gay).
Every one of us suffers a great struggle and it between our own inner world and the society into which we were born and raised. Through proper resolve, we are able to control our aggressive impulses and violent behaviors, thus we are somehow able to attain inner peace and harmony with our society. The problem however, is that we return again to the argument that man is naturally anti-social and anti-cultural, thus most of the people are unable to accept his premises. Man’s aggressive and violent nature comes in line with the superior self-image that humanity have, thus giving him control over other things in the environment.
Freud refers to human aggression as an instinctual disposition in man, and that it somehow impedes civilization. Freud is able to effectively underline the problem of humanity, but he was unable to give or suggest solutions for controlling man’s aggression and anti-social tendencies. Sigmund Freud has a very complex view of man’s aggressive and violent nature because there is a conflicting idea of the instinctual demands and the constraints brought about by civilization. Man values self preservation, and Freud explains that this is manifested by impulses of hatred, anger, and aggression.
In the society, harmony can only be attained through equal amounts of compulsion and restraint in gratifying our impulses. Violence indeed exists in the society, including the uninhibited instinct possessed by man, and the violence which is commonly practiced by our culture. Freud explains that despite having the instincts for self-preservation, this idea is often overshadowed by the social anxiety that is present. This is the state wherein the individuals are very much controlled by what others think of them. Freud states that most of the society is affected by this.
He calls for the need for the society to rise above the need to care about how others think, in order to achieve a higher stage for the society. Freud emphasizes that despite the impulses of aggression and violence, the behavior control imposed by social conventions is much more influential for man. In Freud’s perspective, we can say that despite the advancing western culture, man still harbors a violent and aggressive side. This may not be evidently seen because it is suppressed by the society that man lives in. But if we closely look at the situation, man’s violence and aggression are the things that shaped the society.
Wars were fought and won, and the people have accepted one idea to the other. This is what gave birth to the Renaissance period, and in relation to this, we can say that somehow, Sigmund Freud is right. Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us – Bill Joy’s essay is a reflection of a possibility in this highly technological time. Machines would take over every aspect of our lives and human beings became fully dependent from these sentient human creations (Joy). Right now, we are still reaping the fruits of our technological advancements. We are able to use them for mass producing our needs, thus making our lives easier. Why is this so?
It is because we still have control over them. We still push the button, pull the lever, and we can still do anything that we want from them. But what would happen if we slowly lose control over our creations? As technology improves our lives and puts us at ease, we get piled up with information. There are a lot of things to learn now, and what do we do? We put all of this information in the machines that we make. We try to make them better, more human-like when it comes to functioning and decision making. Bill Joy stressed out that someday soon, we would give these machines the independence to pull the lever and push the button.
We would then stay back and watch, and finally do nothing at all. We didn’t know that these things would all come back to us. We greatly rely on our creations, and we are slowly forming dependence to them. With the rate the technology advances, it would take just a little time for the things that Bill Joy has foreseen to come true. We are not aware of this, because we are more focused on how it eases our lives, on how we are benefitted. It will be all too late when we realize this mistake. Bill Joy stresses that the impending future is not the only case that man overlooked the dangers of his actions because of the benefits that he is reaping.
One of his examples was the creating of the atomic bomb. At first, it was deemed beneficial to gain an upper hand in the arms race. We were unaware of the implications until we tried it out in the Japanese lands of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We were unaware back then, but what’s done is done. Bill Joy stresses out that man should learn from the mistakes of the past. It is true that we are not yet experiencing any troubles from our technological discoveries, but should we wait until it is there? Bill Joy’s essay recognizes how far the Western culture, as well as the rest of the world has come in terms of technology.
From the age renaissance, we are able to use the things that we learned and put them into good use. But Bill Joy implores that we should always take caution, that every action can go bad. It is true that technology has greatly eased our lives, but we should not forget that it can also bring us misery. Endgame – Samuel Beckett’s second play is the opposite of his Waiting for Godot. In Endgame, the theme that is emphasized is leaving or abandonment. This is shown through two characters, Hamm, a man confined in his wheelchair and relies on his attendant, Clov.
Clov expresses his desire to leave, and throughout the play there is the anticipation for this to happen (Beckett). Clov indeed has the desire to leave, but this doesn’t happen because he is afraid of being left alone. The play seemed to happen in a post-apocalyptic setting, wherein no other human beings existed, aside from Clov, Hamm, and Hamm’s legless parents. We can say that Clov has the willingness to leave, but he is not able to, because he is restricted by his fear of being alone. Somehow, he is suffering from a social constraint, wherein he can’t bear existing all by himself.
This can be seen as a fantasy for most people, wherein at some point in their lives, they fear that they are all alone, with no one to talk to or to be with. Endgame keeps the audience anticipating whether Clov would really reach for the door. This somehow answers the question of existence, whether you would value your own existence, or still consider the society (and the social interactions) as an integral part of life. Clov is basically the one that keeps Hamm alive, since Hamm is nothing more than a paralytic blind confined in a wheel chair. Clearly, if Clov leaves Hamm, he would surely die.
This is the dilemma that Clov faces in the play, whether he would value his existence, as he feels it has been impeded by being an attendant to Hamm, or that he would rather continue to do so than be left all alone in the world. Somehow, the title is a clear description of what it’s like living in the present Western culture. We are very much dependent on our connections with other people, that we cease to realize our own importance. We feel that if we choose ourselves, we would be left all alone, and it greatly haunts us. Man has developed this ideology because of the things dictated by the society.
It has been instilled in his mind that he is a social animal, and deviating from that aspect would cost him his existence. Works Cited Beckett, Samuel. “Endgame”. 1957. December 1 2008. <http://samuel-beckett. net/endgame. html>. Bloom, Harold, ed. Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. Freud, Sigmund, and Peter Gay. Civilization and Its Discontents. Trans. James Strachey: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989. Joy, Bill. “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us”. 2000. Wired Magazine. December 1 2008. <http://www. wired. com/wired/archive/8. 04/joy. html? pg=2&topic=&topic_set=>.