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On Directing Godot: Simple Question of Will-Power

Posted by C Moon on March 8, 2008

The following is my current, tentative interpretation on Waiting for Godot (recently written for my AP Literature class), answering questions such as “Why Lucky is Lucky?” and briefly explaining why I think that it is an existentialist play. But, I am open to other opinions and eager to hear them from others. Again, the purpose of this post is to jointly search for THE interpretation for the play. It is my attempt to clear up the questions that remain unconfirmed after reading the piece several times; thus, I am open to other opinions and willing to change my interpretation.

Next to come: What is the significance of the hats in Godot?

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At a glance, it is easy to think that Waiting for Godot is written in the absurdist perspective, i.e., it is saying that there is no significant meaning in life: repetition and silence, or the “routine” is overruling the whole play that it is hard to distinguish the difference between the scenes as they are too monotonous. But I believe that when one takes a deeper look into the play and the lines, one is able to find an existentialist beliefs in this seemingly absurdist theatre piece, Waiting for Godot.

This play is strange. Every time I read it through, I get to face more unanswered questions. One such question, which consequently becomes one of my arguments why Waiting for Godot is an existentialist play, is this: While Beckett does not have problem in leaving the boy to be called “boy” in the cast, why does he bother naming Lucky “Lucky”? Lucky is dominantly called “pig” or “hog,” but the name remains in our mind since Beckett mentions the name in the cast list. What is the significance of the name? My answer to that question at this moment is that Lucky is a symbol of person who is “tied” to a figure such as God: “Pozzo,” who, in his words, says that he is made in “God’s image,” tells Lucky everything that he should do, but Lucky ends up with no life of his own and no thought of his own. Without one’s own will to manage one’s own life, there will be no meaning in life.

So, given that the play conveys existentialist beliefs to the reader, who is Godot that Estragon and Vladimir is waiting for? Many probably guess that Godot is the image of God, with “God” and “Dieu (French for God)” combined. Estragon and Vladimir are waiting for the God-like authority figure to come and give directions to change their monotonous, dull life. This argument is supported by noting the time when the play was actually written: After World War II, people were depressed, aimless, or even “AP-PALLED,” as Vladimir puts. They were unsure of their present time and their presence. They reminisce the old past, saying, “We were respectable in those days.” They wait for Godot in order to ask him “What do we [Estragon and Vladimir] do?” Returning to the question of who is Godot, supposing that Godot is God, will he ever come? I would say, in the existentialist view, it is totally up to Vladimir and Estragon. Remembering that Godot sounds similar to French slang of old boots, there’s a connection that can easily be made: Estragon’s boots and Godot. What would boots symbolize in this play? Estragon’s taking the boots off would be partially due to his decision to wait for Godot. Keeping the boots on, or the “Godot” on, what can Estragon do? He can leave, and initiate the change himself.

My conclusion, that all the two need in order to escape from the doldrums is their own decision to leave, reminds me of one scene in the second act of the play: When Vladimir tries to help Pozzo up or Estragon tries to help Vladimir up, they fail and everyone stumbles on the ground. But Vladimir and Estragon easily get up when they decide to try on their own. A truly ironic, absurd, but funny scene. But as the two say, it demonstrates that it is a “Simple question of will-power.” Will the two possibly leave, “drop”-ping Godot? I am not sure, but I hope that eventually learning everything is a “Simple question of will-power,” Estragon will put his boots on and the two agree to leave.

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Photo Credits: (1) “Waiting for Godot” by Naccarato on Flickr

(2) “Boots” by The 4/30 Murders on Flickr

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3 Responses to “On Directing Godot: Simple Question of Will-Power”

  1. […] (2) On Directing Godot: Simple Question of Will-Power […]

  2. lindsea said

    I love this play! I wrote a post about it a while ago on my blog: http://lindseak.wordpress.com/2008/03/27/waiting-for-godot-free-thinking-response/

    The part I had the most trouble with was Lucky’s thinking soliloquy. Any ideas there? I think Lucky’s character is very important in the whole scheme of the play. He represents the subjugated/slave class vs Pozzo’s rich ruling class. Plus, the whole idea of obedience. I’ve heard some theories that Pozzo is actually Godot, too.

    On the subject of boots, I think hat’s are equally as significant. They’re always looking inside of their hats and boots for something, but nothing is ever there. That fits into the idea of the post modern nothingness, which is explored in this play.

    Anyways, it’d be cool to discuss this with you. My email is lindseak@gmail.com

  3. lindsea said

    Oops, I meant “On the subject of hats, boots are equally significant,” not the other way around! Hehe. It’s too late at night for me to be thinking (1:00 am in Hawaii).

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