Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot first premiered in 1953, and has long been considered one of the greatest plays of all time. The play, though seemingly simple, is dense and widely interpretable. This play is a must read for actors.
Waiting for Godot Synopsis
On a country road, by a tree — Estragon and Vladimir wait for someone named Godot. Estragon struggles with his boot, unable to remove it. When he does succeed, he looks inside, only to find it empty.
They converse. When Estragon decides suddenly to leave, Vladimir reminds him they cannot leave; they are waiting for Godot, though they cannot be sure they are in the right place, or that this is the right day or time.
Estragon snoozes, but Vladimir needs company, and wakes him. He is not interested in hearing about Estragon’s dreams. The two abandon the idea of hanging themselves from the tree, for logistical reasons. Vladimir produces a carrot for Estragon when he is hungry.
A loud cry announces an arrival: it is the slave Lucky, weighed down with bags, a collar and long rope attached around his neck. At the end of the rope is Pozzo, his master, on the way to market to sell him. Vladimir and Estragon wonder if Pozzo is Godot, but he is not. In compensation for their company, Pozzo offers that Lucky should dance and think for them. The dance is clumsy, and the thinking, a lecture on theology, can be stopped only when Lucky’s hat is ripped off, and Lucky collapses.
Once revived, Lucky and Pozzo depart.
Vladimir wonders if they have met Lucky and Pozzo before.
A boy arrives, with a message from Godot that he will not meet them today, but surely tomorrow. Did they meet this boy yesterday?
When the moon appears, Vladimir and Estragon agree to depart and seek shelter. They do not move.
The next day, the nearby tree has revealed a few leaves. Vladimir tries to talk with Estragon about the previous day’s proceedings, but Vladimir’s memory is vague. The two continue to wait for Godot, passing the time in talk and action, all of which is reminiscent of yesterday’s wait.
Pozzo enters on a shorter rope, leading Lucky. Pozzo is blind, and Lucky mute. Pozzo remembers nothing of meeting Estragon and Vladimir yesterday, and claims he will not remember anything of this meeting tomorrow. Estragon falls asleep. Pozzo and Lucky depart.
A boy comes, and Vladimir wonders whether it isn’t the same boy as yesterday. Or perhaps it is his brother? Again, Vladimir learns that Godot will not arrive today, but surely tomorrow. Despite Vladimir’s being able to predict exactly what the boy will say, the boy does not recognize him.
When Estragon wakes up, he takes off his boots. The two consider hanging themselves from the tree, but Estragon’s belt breaks — they cannot hang themselves, and now Estragon’s pants cannot keep themselves up. They resolve that tomorrow they will bring a stronger piece of rope to hang themselves if Godot does not arrive.
Vladimir and Estragon agree to depart and seek shelter. They do not move.
Waiting for Godot Character List