Waiting for Godot Character Comparison Essay

Pages: 6 (2396 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Then cook up with a ladle

And beat him till he was dead.

Then all the dogs came running

And dug the dog a tomb

But there is only one thieving dog in this story (who "stole a crust of bread") and he is subjected to mob violence and retribution alone: it seems to be Vladimir's way of telling the story of the thief who was not saved, which would be measuring his own odds if he still believes that there's a "reasonable percentage" in favor of his own possibility of salvation. Yet I think the structure of Act Two -- like a careful retread of Act One, but with less cause for hope or optimism -- invites us to recollect the hall-of-mirrors structure of Vladimir's opening ditty at the climactic moment when, recapitulating the opening of the play, Estragon is tugging at his boot again, but then eventually falls asleep. Vladimir's thoughts turn to the notion, lurking to a certain extent in the little song about the dog, that all life may in fact be a dream:

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VLADIMIR: Was I sleeping, while the others suffered? Am I sleeping now? Tomorrow, when I wake, or think I do, what shall I say of today? That with Estragon my friend, at this place, until the fall of night, I waited for Godot? That Pozzo passed, with his carrier, and that he spoke to us? Probably. But in all that what truth will there be? (Estragon, having struggled with his boots in vain, is dozing off again. Vladimir looks at him.) He'll know nothing. He'll tell me about the blows he received and I'll give him a carrot. (Pause.) Astride of a grave and a difficult birth. Down in the hole, lingeringly, the grave digger puts on the forceps. We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. (He listens.) But habit is a great deadener. (He looks again at Estragon.) At me too someone is looking, of me too someone is saying, He is sleeping, he knows nothing, let him sleep on. (Pause.) I can't go on! (Pause.)

What have I said?

He goes feverishly to and fro, halts finally at extreme left, broods. Enter Boy right.

Essay on Waiting for Godot Character Comparison Assignment

This is the longest single speech that either Vladimir or Estragon have in the play -- although nowhere near as long as Lucky's rant, most of what Vladimir and Estragon say in Waiting for Godot is said in rapidfire interaction. Here Vladimir is allowed to wax poetic about the proximity of birth and death in human existence, yet here the mise-en-abyme structure of the opening song in Act Two is recapitulated as a view of the futility of existence: "Down in the hole, lingeringly, the grave digger puts on the forceps." But then Vladimir is forced to acknowledge the existence of the sleeping Estragon, and rather than muse whether Estragon is currently dreaming Vladimir himself into existence, Vladimir takes his own existence as proof that, from the standpoint of an external subjectivity like Estragon's, Vladimir himself is still hopelessly deluded. To a certain degree, the ensuing dialogue which Vladimir has with the Boy -- while Estragon continues to sleep -- now sums up this strange total collapse of identity at this moment in the play:


Mister . . . (Vladimir turns.) Mister Albert . . .


Off we go again. (Pause.) Do you not recognize me?


No Sir.


It wasn't you came yesterday.


No Sir.


This is your first time.

Suddenly Vladimir has even lost his name -- the boy addresses him as "Albert" -- but the boy also refuses to acknowledge a continuity in his own identity from yesterday to today. Beckett only specifies a single actor, so we are either implausibly supposed to believe these are twins, or else the boy is lying, or does not remember. Whatever the reason might be, he suddenly seems less than real at this moment. As does the silent and sleeping Estragon, except for the fact that we may be invited here to see Estragon as more than real -- if we assume that, while he slumbers through this dialogue, that Beckett intends us to think of Estragon as dreaming all of this. One way or the other, I think by the end of Act Two it is clear that we are meant to understand both characters as simple expressions of the same consciousness -- whether this is Beckett's own (in an ability to invest himself in all the characters of the drama) or else some larger more allegorical understanding in which Didi and Gogo stand for existential heroes, or French resistance fighters, or (as I suspect) with Russian and French names as emblems of those two atheistical revolutions (the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution during World War One) which might give some sense of why "God" lurks in Godot's name, as though God were merely "lying doggo" (to recall Estragon's slang phrase for avoiding discovery). But one way or the other, it seems clear that Didi and Gogo have only meaning in relation to each other, and so are best understood… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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