Pozzo, whom Estragon initially mistakes for Godot, is perhaps the most aggressive and antagonistic character in the play. In Act One, he wields his power by physically and verbally abusing his slave, Lucky, and by talking down to Vladimir and Estragon. Pozzo is a landowner and, in many stagings of the play, has a less-distressed costume than his counterparts, both of which emphasize his relative wealth. Given these symbols of influence, Estragon’s assumption that Pozzo is the elusive Mr. Godot, or God-like figure, seems somewhat reasonable upon first glance. The similarities in the way their names sound serve as the most immediate connection between the two characters, but the dominating presence that Pozzo has also allows him to appear as larger-than-life to Estragon and Vladimir. He even admits that he is “made in God’s image,” although his inherently dark and corrupt behavior offers a disturbing look at the heartlessness of those in power. He shows Lucky no mercy, mocks Estragon and Vladimir, and reveals his selfish attitude by crying about how Lucky treats him.

For as much control as Pozzo exerts, his relationship with Lucky is not entirely one-sided, and he is not as powerful as he may appear. As the play’s second example of a character pairing, Pozzo and Lucky exist in a surprising symbiotic relationship. This dynamic becomes clearer as the play progresses and Pozzo loses his sight, but even in Act One, Lucky’s steady presence complements Pozzo’s at-times erratic behavior. These moments of absurdity, such as when Pozzo struggles to remember things or finds himself unable locate his misplaced items, suggest that he too has weaknesses. The loss of his watch in particular signifies the wavering nature of his power as he becomes unable to keep track of time, an ability which allows him to feel in control. Even when Pozzo does appear put together and manages to present himself in an intelligent manner, the fact that he credits Lucky for teaching him “all these beautiful things” implies that he is more dependent than he lets on.

When Pozzo returns to the stage in Act Two, he is completely blind, and the flipped power dynamic between him and Lucky points to the randomness of power. He loses his sight seemingly over night and becomes completely helpless as a result. Given that Pozzo’s blindness has no explanation, it becomes yet another symbol of the world’s absurdity and meaninglessness. The fact that he must rely on Lucky, his former slave, to guide him renders the control he once had in their relationship useless, suggesting that even the strongest claims of power are not immune to the universe’s uncertainties. This perspective is particularly significant considering the post-World War II environment in which Beckett wrote Waiting for Godot. Through Pozzo’s character arc, he seems to push back against the idea that power is definite and unwavering. 

Popular pages: Waiting for Godot