Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Gordon Becker


This study is a psychological analysis of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” employing representational models. Jungian and Laingian representations and are used to explore possibilities and movement in the drama through an examination of themes, symbols, and images. Careful attention is given to maintaining the structural/thematic integrity of the art by allowing the play’s shape to determine the form of the representatives. Models of the psyche are proposed within Jungian and Laingian frameworks that treat the characters in the play as fragments of a whole personality. The psychic splits are considered as results of the conflict between personal, transcendent experience and society’s failure to provide viable means for the expression of this experience. The psychic goals of wholeness and transcendence are traced through themes and movement/changes in the play. Broadly speaking, the Jungian approach addresses an impasse in the individuation process referred to as the encounter with the unconscious shadow. Although a reconciliation of this encounter is never fully realized, the play evidences a gradual coalescence of characters and images that suggest a forthcoming resolution to the growing despair in the play. The Laingian approach is less optimistic and depicts the split functions of the personality as gradually deteriorating and disintegrating. The difference in the approaches revolves around the manner in which the respective theories handle duality and conflict. The different conclusions also underscore the central tenet of the representational approach; what is discovered in literature depends on the way of looking at it.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Psychology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1992 Frank Kosmicki.