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Free MonkeyNotes Summary-Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett-BookNotes
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OVERALL ANALYSES

CHARACTER ANALYSIS

Vladimir (Didi)

Vladimir is most easily distinguished from Estragon by his somewhat more elevated perception and intellect. While Estragon laments his physical limitations, Vladimir can be found musing over the struggle in which he is trapped. He enjoys discourse about mental and emotional dilemmas, occasionally referring to his limited memories of the Bible in an attempt to make sense of his life. He is pragmatic and philosophical in regards to the troubles that plague he and Estragon. He exercises almost absolute control over Estragon and asserts his supremacy very subtly.

When Estragon is beaten for the second time and blames Vladimir for not saving him, Vladimir responds that if Estragon was beaten, it was because he had done something to deserve it. He further admits that if he had been around, he would have kept Estragon from doing that bad thing, and therefore saved him from his beating. In a sense, he takes responsibility for being Estragon's conscience. He is confident that without him, Estragon's existence is incomplete. Even in his position of limited superiority, Vladimir asserts his dependence on Estragon, saying "You're my only hope" and fearing that a suicide attempt would leave one of them alone.


Most of the aphorisms and sagacious sayings emanate from Vladimir. One such question is at the end of Act II, when Pozzo and Lucky are leaving - "Where do you go from here?" He is actually questioning the existence of Pozzo and Lucky and their approach to life, an inquiry at the heart of the play. He has pride, as exhibited when he is ashamed of Estragon for gnawing on Pozzo's discarded bones. He also suffers from guilt. He constantly interrogates and checks himself on his own shortcomings. "Was I sleeping, while the others suffered?" Assuming that he has done little or perhaps nothing to improve the miseries of others, he suffers from the stigma of shame and disgrace that he has turned blind to all the sufferings around him. He regrets that "tomorrow" when he "wakes" he will have nothing good and worthy to recollect from his today.

Apart from a stronger sense of moral judgment than the other characters, Vladimir is still bestowed with a sense of indecisiveness. His constant peering into the hat and his walking back and forth are indications of his restless spirit and a longing for stability. At one point he becomes so frustrated with his lack of action that he nearly despairs.

Vladimir is the most committed, the most constant. He reminds Estragon that they must wait for Godot. Perhaps this is simply because his memory is sharper; he remembers many things that Estragon seems to have forgotten. In a sense, Vladimir becomes the conscience of mankind, where his friend Estragon is the body.

Estragon (Gogo)

Estragon is a portrait of physical pain and need. He is first seen complaining of a sore foot. His hunger and thirst never seem to stop or end. He is physically beaten every night. His corporeal suffering seems unending and he is trapped in the moment, with no memory of yesterday and no hope for tomorrow. He is only kept going by the fact that Vladimir remembers yesterday and hopes for tomorrow.

If it is true that Vladimir represents the soul and Estragon, the body, then it is clear that the two men are truly inseparable. Hence they embrace warmly after their periods of separation. They must be inseparable for existence to be certain. One cannot live without the other in the ever-moving drama of life.

Pozzo

He is introduced in the play as a slave driver. As a rich man he is accustomed to materialistic ways of wealth and opulence. He commands total attention and feels proud to introduce himself - "I present myself: Pozzo." Any mistake regarding his identity is met with ferocious resentment. He prides upon declaring that the rest are humans like him, but considers himself superior to the rest. He asserts that he is forced to be a part of this society, because he has no society of his "likes".

His scorn and contempt for Lucky knows no bounds. The abuses that he hurts and heaps on him and the amount of control he has on him serve as an example of his exploiting nature. Lucky is reduced to an automaton with no voice of his own. In the first act, Pozzo makes himself comfortable at the expense of his slave. Pozzo shows some generosity in allowing Gogo to collect the leftover bones. However, he is particular about Lucky's right - "In theory the bones go to the carrier."

By Act II, the proud and sometimes cruel Pozzo has lost his sight and must necessarily be led around by his slave. His helplessness is seen when he falls down and cries for assistance to get up. From an arrogant and wealthy exploiter he changes to a pathetic helpless man.

It is impossible to consider Pozzo as a character independent of his slave, Lucky. In the first place, they are bound together by a rope. At no point are the two men separated. In the first act, the rope is long; the audience sees Lucky long before they see Pozzo. Pozzo presents himself with God-like pomp, which is probably the reason he is mistaken for Godot. In symbolic terms, the god- like character is bound to his inferior slave, but the distance between them is great. In the second act, however, the rope is shorter. At the same time, the god-like character has fallen into pathetic disarray. He is blind and weak. All the pomp and extravagance which once defined him is gone. In this act, his slave must care for him. His greatness is gone.

Lucky

Lucky is presented more like a clown than a person; he is a dog doing tricks for his master, stripped of dignity and autonomy. He is not only bound by rope to his master, he is put on display to think and dance at Pozzo's will. His very name mocks the misfortune that is his life. His constant carrying of baggage and never putting it down symbolizes the ample burden resting on his soul. He carries it willingly and wholeheartedly. Abuses like "hog", "pig" etc. have little effect on him. Like a dog, he carries the whip to his master, and takes his abuse unquestioningly. All these inhuman treatments meted out to him do not provoke in him any retaliation. Lucky does not like strangers, and is very much averse to their help and compassion. He is a humble slave to Pozzo, in total submission to his master's will and pleasure. The wound on his neck and the mistreatment do nothing to dilute his faithfulness.

Lucky is incomprehensible in Act I, mute in Act II. If Pozzo represents fallen greatness, Lucky must represent weakness and foolishness. He "thinks" but possesses no reason; he dances but possesses no grace. He is an animal, trained to react to his master. When Pozzo is incapacitated, Lucky leads him around, but it seems clear by the way they stumble off that the guidance is awkward and without ease.

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MonkeyNotes-Free Study Guide for Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett
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