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Samuel Beckett was born in Dublin in 1906. He befriended the famous Irish novelist James Joyce,

and his first published work was an essay on Joyce. In 1951 and 1953, Beckett wrote his most fa-

mous novels, the trilogy Molloy,Malone Dies, and The Unnameable.

Waiting for Godot, Beckett's first play, was written originally in French in 1948 (Beckett subse-

quently translated the play into English himself). It premiered at a tiny theater in Paris in 1953. This

play began Beckett's association with the Theatre of the Absurd, which influenced later playwrights

like Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard.

The most famous of Beckett's subsequent plays include Endgame (1958) and Krapp's Last Tape

(1959). He also wrote several even more experimental plays, like Breath (1969), a thirty-second

play. Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1969 and died in 1989 in Paris.


Two men, Vladimir and Estragon, meet near a tree. They converse on various topics and reveal

that they are waiting there for a man named Godot. While they wait, two other men enter. Pozzo is

on his way to the market to sell his slave, Lucky. He pauses for a while to converse with Vladimir

and Estragon. Lucky entertains them by dancing and thinking, and Pozzo and Lucky leave.

After Pozzo and Lucky leave, a boy enters and tells Vladimir that he is a messenger from Godot.

He tells Vladimir that Godot will not be coming tonight, but that he will surely come tomorrow. Vla-

dimir asks him some questions about Godot and the boy departs. After his departure, Vladimir and

Estragon decide to leave, but they do not move as the curtain falls.

The next night, Vladimir and Estragon again meet near the tree to wait for Godot. Lucky and Pozzo

enter again, but this time Pozzo is blind and Lucky is dumb. Pozzo does not remember meeting

the two men the night before. They leave and Vladimir and Estragon continue to wait.

Shortly after, the boy enters and once again tells Vladimir that Godot will not be coming. He insists

that he did not speak to Vladimir yesterday. After he leaves, Estragon and Vladimir decide to leave,

but again they do not move as the curtain falls, ending the play.


Vladimir - One of the two main characters of the play. Estragon calls him Didi, and the boy ad-

dresses him as Mr. Albert. He seems to be the more responsible and mature of the two main cha-


Estragon - The second of the two main characters. Vladimir calls him Gogo. He seems weak and

helpless, always looking for Vladimir's protection. He also has a poor memory, as Vladimir has to

remind him in the second act of the events that happened the previous night.

Pozzo - He passes by the spot where Vladimir and Estragon are waiting and provides a diversion.

In the second act, he is blind and does not remember meeting Vladimir and Estragon the night be-


Lucky - Pozzo's slave, who carries Pozzo's bags and stool. In Act I, he entertains by dancing and

thinking. However, in Act II, he is dumb.

Boy - He appears at the end of each act to inform Vladimir that Godot will not be coming that

night. In the second act, he insists that he was not there the previous night.

Godot - The man for whom Vladimir and Estragon wait unendingly. Godot never appears in the

play. His name are character are often thought to refer to God, changing the play's title and subject

to Waiting for Godot.

Act I: Introduction & Pozzo and Lucky's Entrance


Estragon is trying to take off his boot when Vladimir enters. The two men greet each other; Vladi-

mir examines his hat while Estragon struggles with his boot. They discuss the versions of the story

of the two thieves in the Gospels, and Vladimir wonders why one version of the story is considered

more accurate than the others.

Estragon wants to leave, but Vladimir tells him that they cannot because they are waiting for Go-

dot, who they are supposed to meet by the tree. They wonder if they are waiting in the correct

spot, or if it is even the correct day.

Estragon falls asleep, but Vladimir wakes him because he feels lonely. Estragon starts to tell Vla-

dimir about the dream he was having, but Vladimir does not want to hear his "private nightmares."

Estragon wonders if it would be better for them to part, but Vladimir insists that Estragon would not

go far. They argue and Vladimir storms off the stage, but Estragon convinces him to come back

and they make up.

They discuss what to do next while they wait, and Estragon suggests hanging themselves from the

tree. However, after a discussion of the logistics, they decide to wait and see what Godot says.

Estragon is hungry, and Vladimir gives him a carrot. They discuss whether they are tied to Godot

when they hear a terrible cry nearby and huddle together to await what is coming.


The beginning of the play establishes Vladimir and Estragon's relationship. Vladimir clearly realizes

that Estragon is dependent on him when he tells Estragon that he would be "nothing more than a

little heap of bones" without him. Vladimir also insists that Estragon would not go far if they parted.

This dependency extends even to minute, everyday things, as Estragon cannot even take off his

boot without help from Vladimir.

The beginning of the play makes Vladimir and Estragon seem interchangeable. For example, one

of the characters often repeats a line that the other has previously said. This happens in the very

beginning when the two characters switch lines in the dialogue, with each asking the other, "It

hurts?" and responding, "Hurts! He wants to know if it hurts!" In addition to demonstrating the way

that the two characters can be seen as interchangeable, this textual repetition will be found

throughout the play as an indicator of the repetitiveness of life in general for Vladimir and Estragon.

Vladimir's discussion of the story of the two thieves brings up the question of textual uncertainty.

He points out that the four gospels present entirely different versions of this story, and wonders

why one of these versions is accepted as definitive. This question about the reliability of texts

might cause the reader (or audience) of this play to question the reliability of this particular text.

Also, the repetition of the story by the four gospels might allude to the repetitiveness of the action

of the play.

The repetitiveness of the play is best illustrated by Estragon's repeated requests to leave, which

are followed each time by Vladimir telling him that they cannot leave because they are waiting for

Godot. The exact repetition of the lines each time this dialogue appears, including the stage direc-

tions, reinforces the idea that the same actions occur over and over again and suggests that these

actions happen more times than the play presents.

In this beginning section we get the only clue of the nature of Vladimir and Estragon's relationship

with Godot. They mention that they asked Godot for "a kind of prayer...a vague supplication," which

he is currently considering. This creates a parallel between Godot and God, also suggested by

their similar names, and it seems that Vladimir and Estragon do consider Godot a kind of religious

figure when they mention coming in on their hands and knees.

Act I: Pozzo and Lucky Scene


Pozzo enters, driving Lucky ahead of him by a rope around his neck. Vladimir and Estragon won-

der if Pozzo is Godot, but he tells them that he is Pozzo and asks if they have heard of him. They

tell him that they have not. Pozzo commands Lucky to put down his stool, and sits down and be-

gins to eat some chicken. While he eats, Vladimir and Estragon circle around Lucky, inspecting

him. They notice a sore on his neck and begin to ask him a question, but Pozzo tells them to leave

him alone.

Estragon asks Pozzo if he can have the bones from his chicken, and Pozzo tells him that Lucky

gets priority over them. Estragon asks Lucky if he wants the bones, but he does not reply, and

Pozzo tells Estragon that he can have the bones. He comments that he has never known Lucky to

refuse a bone and hopes that he is not sick.

Vladimir suddenly explodes with anger at Pozzo's treatment of Lucky, but then seems embarras-

sed at his outburst. Pozzo decides to go, but then decides to stay and smoke another pipe. Vladi-

mir wants to leave, but Pozzo reminds him of his appointment with Godot.

Estragon begins to wonder aloud why Lucky does not put down his bags. Pozzo begins to answer

the question, after much preparation involving his vaporizer spray, but gives a convoluted and con-

tradictory response. Vladimir asks Pozzo if he wants to get rid of Lucky; Pozzo responds that he

does and is taking him to the fair to sell him.

Lucky begins to cry, and Pozzo hands Estragon a handkerchief to wipe away his tears. Estragon

approaches Lucky, but Lucky kicks him in the shins. Pozzo tells Vladimir and Estragon that he has

learned a lot from Lucky, and that Lucky has been serving him for nearly sixty years. Vladimir be-

comes angry that Pozzo is going to get rid of Lucky after so much time, and Pozzo gets upset.

Vladimir then gets angry at Lucky for mistreating Pozzo.

Pozzo calms down, but he realizes that he has lost his pipe and begins to get upset again. While

Estragon laughs at Pozzo, Vladimir exits, apparently to go to the bathroom. He returns, in a bad

mood, but soon calms down. Pozzo sits down again and begins to explain the twilight. When he

finishes, he asks them to evaluate his performance and then offers to have Lucky perform for

them. Estragon wants to see Lucky dance, while Vladimir wants to hear him think, so Pozzo com-

mands him to dance and then think.

Lucky dances, and Estragon is not very impressed. Pozzo tells them that he used to dance much

better. Vladimir asks him to tell Lucky to think, but Pozzo says that he cannot think without his hat.

Vladimir puts Lucky's hat on his head and he begins to think aloud, spouting a long stream of

words and phrases that amount to gibberish. As he goes on, the other three suffer more and more

and finally throw themselves on him and seize his hat to make him stop. Pozzo tramples on the

hat, and the men help Lucky up and give him all the bags.

Pozzo is about to leave, but finds that he cannot. He decides that he needs a running start, so he

starts from the opposite end of the stage and drives Lucky across as they exchange good-byes.


Pozzo's statement about his pipe, that the second pipe is never as "sweet" as the first, can apply to

experience in general—it suggests that feelings and events dull with repetition.

Repetition of events in the play is emphasized by further textual repetition. When Vladimir and

Estragon alternate short lines back and forth, Estragon often repeats himself at the end of a string

of lines. This occurs for the first time in this exchange: "Estragon: The circus. Vladimir: The music-

hall. Estragon: The circus." This same trope will recur several times in a row at the beginning of the

second act, always with Estragon repeating himself.

We see here that Vladimir supports Estragon after Estragon is kicked by Lucky: when he cries that

he cannot walk, Vladimir offers to carry him, if necessary. This illustrates Vladimir's attempt to pro-

tect and take care of Estragon.

Vladimir is often very quick to change his mind. When he learns of Lucky's long term of service to

Pozzo, he becomes angry with Pozzo for mistreating his servant. However, when Pozzo gets upset

and says that he cannot bear it any longer, Vladimir quickly transfers his anger to Lucky, whom he

reproaches for mistreating his master after so many years. This illustrates how Vladimir's opinion

can be easily swayed by a change in circumstances.

In this section we see the first suggestions that Vladimir and Estragon might represent all of huma-

nity. When Pozzo first enters, he notes that Vladimir and Estragon are of the same species as he

is, "made in God's image." Later, when Pozzo asks Estragon what his name is, he replies "Adam."

This comparison of Estragon to Adam, the first man, suggests that he may represent all of man-

kind; and this link between Estragon and Adam also relates to the idea of Godot as God.

Pozzo's inquiry about how Vladimir and Estragon found him suggests that Pozzo is giving a per-

formance. This notion is reinforced when he has Lucky perform for them. It seems that Pozzo and

Lucky appear primarily to entertain Vladimir and Estragon—after Pozzo and Luck leave, the other

two men comment that their presence helped the time pass more rapidly.




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Appunti di Letteratura inglese della prof.ssa Vallaro su Waiting for Godot: Context, Samuel Beckett, Act I: Introduction & Pozzo and Lucky's Entrance, Act I: Pozzo and Lucky Scene, Act I: Pozzo and Lucky's Exit to Conclusion, Act II: Introduction & Pozzo and Lucky's Entrance, Act II: Pozzo and Lucky Scene, Act II: Pozzo and Lucky's Exit to Conclusion.

Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in lettere (BRESCIA - MILANO)

I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher valeria0186 di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Letteratura inglese e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore - Milano Unicatt o del prof Vallaro Cristina.

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