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Waiting for Godot Notes

Waiting for Godot Notes

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Published by irregularflowers
Notes on the play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Notes on the play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

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Published by: irregularflowers on Jul 16, 2010
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Title: Waiting for GodotGenre: TragicomedyAuthor: Samuel BeckettPeriod/ School: Absurdist Theater Publication Date: 1954The Author and His Times: Samuel Beckett lived during a very turbulent period, hiding inFrance during WWII and traveling across post-war Europe. Beckett was extremely well-educated, as seen in the multitude of subtle references to literature and philosophy that appear inmany of his works. The ultimate goal of his works was to explore the question of how humanscome to terms with their own existence.Form, Structure, Plot: The play is divided into five two acts, and the action is rather circular.There are no scene divisions. The two acts are mirror images of one another.Characters: the main characters are Vladimir (Didi) and Estragon (Gogo), with importantappearances also made by Lucky and Pozzo. They are largely static, but are round, seeming tohave a shared history and mental processes that are invisible to the audience. It is difficult to judge how characters learn from each other or communicate because, while they talk a lot, their conversations are often fragmented, their actions may do reflect the emotion implied by their words, and both words and actions are conveyed stiffly, as if with uncertainty and perpetualawkwardness. Vladimir and Estragon are the protagonists, and there is no real antagonist exceptfor the uncertainty of the universe itself. Though he is entirely absent, Godot exerts a largeinfluence on their actions, for they are prevented from leaving in the expectation that he willarrive. It is difficult to judge the personalities of Estragon and Vladimir independently, their existence seems to be dependent on the presence of the other; they have a very intimaterelationship.
intellectual, stiff, dower, suffers from a prostate problem that necessitates himconstantly leaving and prowling the stage, imbuing him with a restless energy. He is a bit prouder than Estragon, and more concerned with social conventions. He also pounders larger  problems and focuses on the beyond. His name may indicate that he likes to talk and think, withthe implication that he may be less able to get things done. His name reflects his ability to speak with strength.
: I was asleep! Why will you never let me sleep?
: I felt lonely
: I had a dream
: Don’t tell me
: I dreamt that— 
: This one is enough for you? It’s not nice of you, Didi. Who am I to tell my private nightmaresto if I can’t tell them to you?
This conversation illustrates a fundamental facet of Vladimir’s outlook on life. He is morerational than Estragon, and seems incapable of understanding fantasy or imagination. He alsoseems to lack empathy and is more concerned with his own peace of mind than that of Estragon.
sentimental, confused, clingy. Estragon is more emotional and expressive thanVladimir, and often seems put off by his irritability. He is concerned with more earthly problems,such as what he is going to eat and how he is going to sleep without being beaten. He is a more physical person, and suffers more physical discomfort. He focuses on more simplistic ideas, suchas pictures in the Bible, and is in that way less cynical and more naïve. He fears being alone butalso suggests that he and Vladimir should part ways, suggesting that he does not think rationally.He is moody, needy, and forgetful.
: Please Sir…
: What is it, my good man?
: Er…you’ve finished with the…er…you don’t need the…er…bones, Sir?
: You couldn’t have waited?
This quote reinforces the motif of basic human needs triumphing over social dignity. Vladimir hesitates to lose his dignity, but Estragon recognizes his needs and is willing to act on them nomatter the circumstances.
enslaved, quiet, intelligent. Lucky belongs Pozzo, and despite his mistreat, is loyal tohim. He is strong both mentally and physically, but his talents are only used for the benefits of others—Pozzo even owns his thoughts. When he is allowed to think he thinks very powerfully,so much so that it is emotionally and physically unbearable to the other characters, but his lot inlife ultimately is subservience. He is usually reticent, violence-prone around strangers, but obeysPozzo’s orders, even if they are illogical. One may insinuate that he is called Lucky because,even though his position in life is one of servitude, he has a clear mission and position in life;unlike Vladimir and Estragon, he is able to move, think, and act. This implies that it is best tohave a clear purpose in life, to have someone to follow.
: Why doesn’t he make himself comfortable? Let’s try and get this clear. Has he not the right to?Certainly he has. It follows that he doesn’t want to. There’s reasoning for you. And why doesn’t he wantto? (
) Gentlemen, the reason is this. […] he wants to impress me, so that I’ll keep him.
This quote highlights the conflict between freedom and slavery, and questions which is better and more secure. Lucky may have the right to do something, but whether he does it or not is hischoice, he has freedom about how and why he should act, and that is why he doesn’t want torelinquish his position.
wealthy, conceited, snobby. Pozzo is a stark contrast to the characters of Estragon andLucky, because while he seems to have everything, they have nothing. He carries his world of material possession with him, while Estragon and Vladimir seem to not have a place in the worldat all. He is aware of his authority of others, and seems to enjoy taking advantage of it up to a point. However, this flaunting of wealth seems to break down, mirrored by the loss of his watch,revealing an underlying current of uncertainty and insecurity. He represents the wealthy,
oppressive classes, and how having excessive material possessions does not necessarily lead toincreased happiness, security, or understanding. His name in Italian means “hole” or “well.” Hehas a very materialistic outlook on life, and seems to be in need of help frequently.
: I’d very much like to sit down, but I don’t quite know how to go about it.
: Could I be of any help?
: If you asked me, perhaps.
: What?
: If you asked me to sit down.
: Would that be a help?
This quote shows how, despite his appearance of confidence, Pozzo is actually quite dependenton the direction of others. Perhaps his time spent with V & E has made him lose his sense of self and look for answers from people who seem to be more in charge.Setting: the specifics of the setting are left vague, but it appears to take place in a rural areaduring winter. Time is a remote principle that applies only in theory, and it is often unclear whattime it is or whether it is the same day. As the second scene opens, spring is nearing, hinting atthe awakening of hope.Diction: characters enjoy playing with words, deliberately mispronouncing them, andexperimenting with different shades of meaning and expectation. Despite what the audience mayassume to be less-than-favorable economic conditions, all characters speak in a refined, educatedmanner. Wearing Lucky’s hat brings with it a decidedly academic and educated way of speaking.
: Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattman of a personalGod quaquaquaqua with white beard who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divineaphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions for reasons unknown…
This quote, as long as the rest of Lucky’s speech, utilizes a very formal, scientific diction that isintended to make the audience think of academia, which Lucky’s speech identifies as a commonconduit through which people seek meaning. This quote also emphasizes the insufficiency of words to convey substantial meaning by mocking intelligent-sounding words.
: We always find something, eh Didi, to give us the impression we exist?
: Yes yes, we’re magicians. But let us persevere in what we have resolved, before we forget.Come on, give me your foot. The other, hog!
This quote illustrates Vladimir’s inconsistent mental state. He has the formality of speech of Lucky, but the vulgarity of Pozzo. This shows how strong an impression certain people can leave behind, and the tendency to pick up the habits of others without being aware of doing so. Thus,even personal identity is constantly in motion, and people must be judged relative to one another. No one can be truly independent.
: They all speak at once
: Each one to itself 
: Rather they whisper 
: They rustle
: They murmur 

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