The Plight of Godlessness in Eastern and Western Literature: A Comparative Reading of Absurdity in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Al-Hakim’s The Tree Climber

Document Type : Research Paper

Authors

1 M.A. in English Language and Literature, English Department, Faculty of Letters and Humanities, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

2 Associate Professor, English Literature and Cultural Studies, English Department, Faculty of Letters and Humanities, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

3 Assistant Professor, English Literature, English Department, Faculty of Letters and Humanities, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

Abstract

This paper discusses the concept of absurdity in literature as one of the features of modern human bereft of God. It compares and contrasts two cannons of the Theatre of the Absurd in the West and the East, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (1956) with Tawfiq Al-Hakim’s Ya tali’ Al-Shajarah (1962) [The Tree Climber (1966)]. These plays have dramatized the absurdity of the human condition after the World War II. Consequently, this paper attempts to offer an understanding of absurdity in two different cultures, Christian and Muslim, through the tenets of comparative literature. As the idea of absurdity is presented differently in various works, this article chiefly focuses on the selected plays to reveal their writers’ depiction of the absence of God. It is concluded that although The Tree Climber benefited from many characteristics of absurd literature, Al-Hakim’s points of view toward human existence, hope, and God convey different messages from those of Beckett’s. For Al-Hakim, hope is still found in the fertilization of a garden tree and spirituality is seen in the image of Dervish who concludes the play with verses from the Quran. However, for Beckett, hope is impossible, characters are suicidal and God is the never-coming God(ot).

Keywords