Waiting for Godot Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First produced: 1953 as En attendant Godot

First published: En attendant Godot, 1952 (English translation, 1954)

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Absurdist

Time of work: The present

Locale: A country road

Characters DiscussedVladimir

Vladimir Waiting for Godot (vla-dee-MEER), also called Didi (dee-DEE), and

Estragon

Estragon (ehs-tra-GOH[N]), also called Gogo (goh-GOH), two tramps. In this play, action is unimportant; the characters remain undeveloped as they wait impatiently for Godot, who remains a mysterious entity, possibly a local landowner but also a symbol of spiritual seeking. They gnaw carrots, rest their tired feet, and engage in other simple activities while their conversations reveal the helplessness of their situation. Throughout the play, there is every suggestion that the two live estranged from a state of grace that is hoped for but never realized. Often considering suicide, they are caught in a calm of inactivity between hope and despair in their longing for salvation, which is linked somehow with Godot. When the play ends, the two are still waiting for the promised appearance of Godot.

Pozzo

Pozzo (poh-ZOH), a materialist. A rich, boisterous tyrant, he is obviously an expounder of Nietzschean doctrines and materialistic concepts. Pozzo admits that Lucky has taught him all the beautiful things he knows, but now his servant has become unbearable and is driving him mad. At first, he drives his servant with a rope. Later, when Pozzo reappears, blinded in symbolic fashion by his own worldly successes and romantic pessimism, he must be led by his mute servant.

Lucky

Lucky, Pozzo’s servant. Born a peasant, he gives the impression of a new proletarian, the symbol of modern people’s belief in the promises and miracles of science. Lucky first appears driven by Pozzo at the end of a rope. Ordered to think for the group, he delivers the wildest, most brilliantly sustained monologue of the play. When he next appears, he is leading the blind Pozzo, but he is mute.

A boy

A boy, a messenger from Godot.

Sources for Further StudyAndonian, Cathleen Culotta. Samuel Beckett: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989. A comprehensive, annotated bibliography, well indexed. The critical reception of Waiting for Godot can be traced through its listings.Bair, Deirdre. Samuel Beckett. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978. Original, full-length biography, drawing on hundreds of interviews with Beckett’s friends and acquaintances. Provides much interesting circumstantial information on the genesis of the play, its controversial early productions, and its translations.Bloom, Harold, ed. Waiting for Godot: Modern Critical Interpretations. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. The eight representative selections by leading interpreters of Beckett’s work (including Ruby Cohn, Martin Esslin, John Fletcher, and Hugh Kenner) consider the theatrical, religious, and philosophical implications of Waiting for Godot.Byden, Mary. “Beckett and Religion.” In Samuel Beckett Studies, edited by Lois Oppenheim. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. A short but detailed study of the way various critics have responded to Beckett’s use of religion.Byden, Mary. Samuel Beckett and the Idea of God. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998. The most comprehensive book to study Beckett’s work and his use of God.Connor, Steven, ed. “Waiting for Godot” and “Endgame.” New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Four of the eleven interrelated essays deal with Waiting for Godot in terms drawn from contemporary theory. They range from the liberal humanist reading of Andrew Kennedy on action and theatricality to Jeffrey Nealon’s definition of a postmodernist culture that validates the self through the playing of serious games.Cousineau, Thomas. “Waiting for Godot”: Form in Movement. Boston: Twayne, 1990. A theoretically informed student guide to the play. Contends that concrete scenic language and physical movement displaces narrow notions of text. Also contains discussions of various themes and techniques. Annotated bibliography.Damashek, Richard. “Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.” Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1965. A study of the play that considers not only the Christian references but also the relation of the play to Simone Weill’s Attente de Dieu (1950; Waiting for God, 1951).Esslin, Martin. The Theatre of the Absurd. 3d ed. New York: Penguin Books, 1987. Highly influential for its famous definition and its lucid study of the movement of which Waiting for Godot is a classic part. Focusing on existential elements, the analysis attempts to account for the complexity of the effect of the play.Pattie, David. The Complete Critical Guide to Samuel Beckett. New York: Routledge, 2000. Contains both biographical information on Beckett and critical analysis of his works, including Waiting for Godot.
Categories: Characters