Mythological strategy is a genre or approach in literary criticism which is also sometimes referred to as archetypal strategy. Mythological critics interpret the hopes, fears, and expectations of entire cultures. This strategy does not always mean that critics have to look for mythological allusions in terms of gods and goddesses in a work. This strategy is used to see how characters make something out of their lives symbolically, and it looks for underlying and recurrent patterns that reveal universal and timeless themes (Meyer, 2002). This approach also sees the recurring archetypal characters, which are types of characters that have already established their personality types in previous, classic works. Some examples are: the fallen hero, damsels in distress, evil step-mom, classic villains, and classic heroes. Fairytales may have provided the world with a number of archetypal characters, but the mythological strategy is not exclusive for use in children’s literature.
Mythological Strategy in Waiting for Godot
There are no gods, goddesses or heroes in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, but the mythological strategy can surely be used in analyzing the play. In fact, the play may even be a perfect piece for mythological strategy because one of the themes of the play is the search for meaning of existence. The two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, are only alive in the play for one reason—and that is to wait for Godot. They are not exactly sure why they are waiting for Godot, but they wait nonetheless (Beckett, 1982). It shows a close but pessimistic depiction of the human condition: We are not exactly sure what our lives are for or to what end does living amount to, but we continue to live anyway despite the uncertainty. Vladimir and Estragon are the archetypal characters of two foolish friends. They provide an image of the classic two friends engaging in what seems to be senseless activities.
Beckett, S. (1982). Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts. New York: Grove Press.
Mayer, M. (2002). Literary criticism. The Bedford Introduction to Literature
(pp. 2107-2109). St. Martin’s Press.