Samuel Beckett - Waiting for Godot

Elaboration, 2000

4 Pages, Grade: 1

Free online reading

Selected English Drama Referat am 25.01.1999

Seminar von Anke Voigt

Dozent: Dr. Bleyhl

Samuel Beckett

Waiting for Godot

Samuel Barclay Beckett - his biography:

- born near Dublin, Ireland, on April 13, 1906

- his parents were a part of the Protestant minority in a predominantly Catholic society · he had an excellent education and graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1927 · with a major emphasis on French and Italian

- Beckett taught English in the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris.

- In 1931, he returned to Ireland as a lecturer in French literature, received his master degree in French and returned to Paris as a teacher in 1932.

- He soon turned all his attention to writing because he found teaching uncongenial to his creative activities. · He spent the next few years wandering in London and through France and Germany, contributing stories and poems to avant-garde periodicals, before settling in Paris in 1937.

- Since 1937, Paris was Beckett's declared home

- In the late 1940s, Beckett changed from writing in English to writing in French

- The reason for this was that he rejected Ireland as his homeland. When asked for the reason, he gave the same explanation like other famous writers like Sean O'Casey and James Joyce. He could not tolerate the strickt censorship of so many aspects of life, especially the censoring of literature by the Catholic clergy. And the political situation created an oppressive anti-intellectualism.

- Even after he became famous, he refused to allow some of his plays to be presented in Ireland.

- In 1958, after a play of O'Casey was banned, Beckett withdrew his plays in protest. They have not been seen in Ireland since then.

- In 1969, Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. · He died in Paris on Dec. 22, 1989.

His works:

- The critics still find it difficult to classify Beckett's works. Since the majority of his works was written in French and first presented in Paris, the question is: Should he be considered a French or an Irish writer? · The characters, though named Vladimir or Estragon, seem to be more typical Irish than any other nationality. · Fortunately Beckett was his own translator for his works, so no other translator influenced the English verisions. · Becketts first novel was "Murphy", written in 1938.

- contains all the elements of his later work: the normal, busy world; someone who cannot come to terms with it; and a language whose low-keyed precision is disturbed by nothing it undertakes to describe, however grotesque or ridiculous.

- In his next novel, "Watt" (1942-44), the language still remains explicit. But the situations become increasingly strange.

- A trilogy followed: "Molloy", "Malone Dies", and "The Unnamable" (1947-49). These works draw the reader into the mysterious world where Beckett seemed to be at home.

- But he became famous for his work "En Attendant Godot", which was written in 1948, published in French in 1952 and in English as "Waiting for Godot" in 1953.

- The play Endgame is the second famous work which is even more abstract than "Waiting for Godot"

- His later works include the plays "Happy Days" (1961), "Not I" (1973), "That Time" (1976), "Rockaby" (1981), and the novel "How It Is" (1964).

"Waiting for Godot"

In Beckett's works, the reader is clearly told everything except the things he is used to know.

In the play "Waiting for Godot" it is obvious that two tramps are waiting for Godot, a man who can make a great

difference to their lives. We get to know that they return to the place of the appointment night after night and that they try to pass time with games and dialogues. But we never get to know who Godot may be and what difference he will make.

Beckett denied that Godot was a symbol for God and that any general scheme of systematic meanings underlay the work.

Quote: "When are they going to stop making me mean more than I say?"

Or: "Meine Stücke sind nur Spiel. Erst andere Leute haben daraus Ernst gemacht". The mysteriousness of the play makes it so disturbingly powerful.

The characters:

Vladimir (Didi):

- He is an old derelict dressed like a tramp. Along with Estragon, his companion of many years, he comes to a desolate place to wait for Godot.

- During the play, Vladimir keeps reminding Estragon of the fact that they are waiting for Godot. He is the more patient man of the two.

Estragon (Gogo):

- A very forgetful, if not senile, derelict who is always concerned about his physical needs. · He keeps forgetting things and has no feeling for time and place.

- Every night he is beaten up by some men. It is never indicated who they are and why they beat him.


- He is a traveling man who appears to be rather wealthy.

- He has a slave (Lucky) and leads him on a rope tied to the slave's neck.

- In Act I, Pozzo is healthy. In Act II, he seems to be blind. Vladimir suspects that he might have been staging his blindness.

- Each day he appears suddenly and disappears some time later after talking to Vladimir and Estragon.


- With a rope tied around his neck, Lucky obeys to Pozzo's orders. · As Estragon approaches him, Lucky kicks him against the shin.

- He only speaks once, and that is a whole stream of consciousness which sounds quite diffused. · In Act II, Pozzo claims Lucky to be dumb.

Boy I+Boy II:

- It is not certain whether they are identical.

- They come / he comes each evening to tell Vladimir and Estragon that "Mr. Godot" can't come today but that he will certainly meet them the next day at the same place.


- He never appears in the play, but he is the person that Vladimir and Estragon are waiting for.

Instead of a summary - "Dramatic Divisions":

Beckett's following divisions of the play illustrate its circular character which would allow a third, fourth or even fifth act to be added. Each act would have the same structure:


1. Vladimir and Estragon Alone

2. Arrival of Pozzo and Lucky: Lucky's Speech

3. Departure of Pozzo and Lucky: Vladimir and Estragon Alone

4. Arrival of Boy Messenger

5. Departure of Boy Messenger: Vladimir and Estragon Alone


1. Vladimir and Estragon Alone

2. Arrival of Pozzo and Lucky

3. Departure of Pozzo and Lucky: Vladimir and Estragon Alone

4. Arrival of Boy Messenger

5. Departure of Boy Messenger: Vladimir and Estragon Alone

Some aspects of the play:

- During the play, almost nothing happens.

- The play lost some of its tension when it became public that Godot never appears.

- Vladimir and Estragon talk about things that they are going to do, but they never do them.

- There are lots of comical remarks which make the play more pleasant.

- e.g. the slapstick scene with the hats seems like a sketch by Laurel and Hardy

- Beckett used many allusions to the Bible, to other authors, and to philosophical theories, e.g.:

- Bible: The Boy messenger who's brother is a shepherd. It alludes to Moses 4,2: "Sie gebar ein zweites Mal, nämlich Abel, seinen Bruder. Abel wurde Schafhirt und Kain Ackerbauer."

- Author: Dante's Divinia Commedia, Purgatorio XXXII, 59 f.: "Es erneuerte sich der Baum, dessen Zweige vorher ganz kahl waren." Allusion in Act II.

- Philosophy: Lucky's monologue in which three central themes are recognizable. The absence of God, the increasing unimportance of man, and the world as chaos.

- There were even some parents who tried to name their son "Godot" because they had to wait long for his birth. But they were not allowed.

- Beckett's work was influenced by authors such as Proust and Ionesco.

- Ionesco's "Cantatrice chauve" was the first "Anti-Theatre"-play in which all structural elements of drama are reduced (i.e. plot, language and dialogue, character, place and time)

- It is probably the most discussed play of the century because each reader interprets it differently.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.


4 of 4 pages


Samuel Beckett - Waiting for Godot
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
385 KB
Samuel, Beckett, Waiting, Godot
Quote paper
Anke Arnold (Author), 2000, Samuel Beckett - Waiting for Godot, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Samuel Beckett - Waiting for Godot

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free