Samuel Beckett’s 1949 play “Waiting for Godot” (in the original: “En attendant Godot”) was premiered in January 1953 in Paris. It established Beckett’s fame as the author of the theater of the absurd. Somewhere on a country road, the protagonists Tarragon and Vladimir are waiting for a stranger named Godot. They do not remember the reason for the appointment; they also do not know whether and when Godot will come. Each of the two almost identical acts covers a day in an indefinable time.
In ragged clothes, the homeless tarragon sits in front of a tree on a country road and tries to pull the shoe off his swollen foot. His companion Vladimir appears and is happy to see you again. Trying to get a conversation going, Vladimir thinks about the criminal who was crucified and redeemed next to Jesus.
When Tarragon suggests they go, Vladimir replies that this is not possible because they are waiting for Godot. Tarragon remembers; However, there is uncertainty about the place and time of the agreed meeting. Tired of each other’s presence, they consider separating. Then they flatter each other again, almost affectionately calling themselves Gogo or Didi. Finally, they toy with the idea of hanging up. They want to hear Godot’s answer beforehand; However, they have forgotten the content of their request or request.
While Tarragon and Vladimir share their meager meal, Pozzo and his servant Lucky appear. Pozzo drives Lucky, who is heavily laden with furniture and household items, on a rope. When Pozzo sits down for a sumptuous meal, Vladimir and Tarragon inspect the completely exhausted Lucky. Vladimir blurts out that it is a shame to keep a person like an animal.
When Vladimir is about to leave, Pozzo reminds him that he is waiting for Godot. Pozzo suffers from his own dependence on Lucky and intends to sell his longtime servant and porter. Against the rampant boredom, Pozzo makes Lucky dance and think aloud.
Pozzo moves on and a boy turns up at Estragon and Wladimir’s with a message: Mr. Godot won’t come today, but he’ll definitely come the next day. Night falls is the signal to end the waiting for today. Tarragon and Vladimir remember their long past together. They wonder how different their path would have been if everyone had stayed to themselves.
Vladimir and Tarragon meet in the same place the next morning. The previously bare tree now has leaves. Tarragon doesn’t seem to remember yesterday’s meeting with Pozzo and Lucky, for him all the days of the past look the same. While they wait for Gordot, they curse and make up and do gymnastics.
Pozzo and Lucky reappear. Pozzo has meanwhile gone blind, Lucky fell silent. When Pozzo falls and calls for help, Vladimir and Tarragon weigh the pros and cons of helping him up. As the wait for Godot is long for them, they decide to make themselves useful. You put Pozzo on his feet and support him as he walks. Pozzo cannot remember meeting the two of them the day before either. Angrily, he explains that exact timing does not matter in life. He moves on with Lucky.
Tarragon falls asleep and meanwhile the boy from the previous evening appears. Again he brings the news that Mr. Godot will not come today, but certainly tomorrow.
Vladimir and Tarragon want to end the wait for the day. Again they consider hanging themselves up but don’t have a suitable rope. You agree to bring this one with you tomorrow. Now they decide to leave, but they do not move.
“Waiting for Godot” has become a synonym for long and hopeless waiting. The plot in Samuel Beckett’s play is on the spot. Nothing happens. The only focus is on the protagonists’ waiting. Neither the people nor the time or place can be given. This vagueness is considered a characteristic of Samuel Beckett’s work in general. It divides viewers and readers into two camps: the one shaking their head and rejecting it, the other convinced of the genius with which the senselessness and absurdity of human existence is illuminated.
Quotes and passages
“Come on, we’re going.”
“We are waiting for Godot.”
– Multiple dialogue between Tarragon and Vladimir
“The tears of the world are immortal. For everyone who starts to cry, someone else stops somewhere. It’s the same with laughter. «
– Pozzo in Act 1