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Waiting for Godot By Samuel Beckett (Summary, Book Review, Online Reading, PDF, Download)


Written by Samuel Beckett
Characters Vladimir
A Boy
Mute Godot
Date premiered 5 January 1953
Place premiered Théâtre de Babylone, Paris
Original language French

Summary: Waiting for Godot (/ ɡɒdoʊ / GOD-oh) is a play by Samuel Beckett, in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, await the arrival of someone called Godot who never arrives, and while they wait they participate in a variety of discussions and find three other characters. Waiting for Godot is Beckett's translation of his own original work in French, En attendant Godot, and is subtitled (in English only) "a tragicomedy in two acts". The original text in French was composed between October 9, 1948, and January 29, 1949. The premiere was on January 5, 1953, at the Théâtre de Babylone, Paris. The English version premiered in London in 1955. In a survey conducted by the British Royal National Theater in 1990, it was voted "the most significant English language game of the 20th century".Waiting for Godot begins with two men on a barren road next to a tree without leaves. These men, Vladimir and Estragon, are often characterized as "vagabonds", and we soon see that the world of this work is operating with its own set of rules: where nothing happens, nothing is safe and there is never anything to do.Boring sound? Surprise: it's anything less.Vladimir and Estragon, who are also called Didi and Gogo, respectively, are waiting for Godot, a man (or perhaps a deity). The vagabonds cannot be sure if they have met Godot, if they are waiting in the right place, if this is the right day, or even if Godot is going to appear at all. While they wait, Vladimir and Estragon fill their time with a series of mundane activities (like turning a boot on and off) and trivial conversations (turnips, carrots) interspersed with more serious reflections (dead voices, suicide, the Bible).The vagabonds are interrupted by the arrival of Lucky, a man/servant/pet with a rope tied around his neck, and Pozzo, his master, holding the other end of the long rope. The four men proceed to do together what Vladimir and Estragon did before alone: namely, nothing.(Meanwhile, audience members scratch their heads and look around to see if everyone else understands what's going on - at least, we think so, of course, we did it the first time). Lucky and Pozzo leave so that Vladimir and Estragon can return to do nothing by themselves. Vladimir suggests that this is not the first time he meets Lucky and Pozzo, which is surprising since they acted as strangers upon arrival. (On the other hand, Estragon can not even remember a ten-line conversation after it happens, so we're not going to rely on memory in this work).The nothingness is interrupted by the arrival of the Child, who informs Vladimir that Godot will not come today, but will be there tomorrow. Yippee! Except not, since Vladimir's comments suggest that the Boy said this before.Estragon and Vladimir talk a bit more about the suicide and then decide to leave the stage since it is night and they do not have to wait for Godot anymore. Of course, having decided to leave, neither of them moves, and the curtain closes in Act I.The curtain opens for Act II, which you will soon see remarkably as Act I. Men still sit waiting for Godot and meanwhile try to occupy the dead hours. Lucky and Pozzo appear, but this time Lucky has remained mute and Pozzo is blind. They spent a while circling the stage, and Pozzo declares that having lost his eyes, he has no sense of time now. Lucky does not declare anything because he is mute. Meanwhile, Vladimir is rather poetic, wondering if perhaps he is sleeping, agreeing with Pozzo's statement that life is ephemeral, and concluding that habit is the great ordeal of life. Pozzo and Lucky are leaving again, just in time for the Boy to appear and tell Vladimir that Godot will not come today, but that he will be there tomorrow. Vladimir and Estragon contemplate the suicide but they do not have a rope (they think to hang themselves on the sterile tree since it is the unique support that could be lent to such effort). The men decide to leave because it is night and they do not have to wait for Godot anymore, but neither of them moves and the curtain falls.The work ends, but we believe that everyone knows what happens next. And after that. And after that. Etc