Waiting for Godot

by: Samuel Beckett

Act I: Introduction & Pozzo and Lucky's Entrance

The beginning of the play makes Vladimir and Estragon seem interchangeable. For example, one of the characters often repeats a line that the other has previously said. This happens in the very beginning when the two characters switch lines in the dialogue, with each asking the other, "It hurts?" and responding, "Hurts! He wants to know if it hurts!" In addition to demonstrating the way that the two characters can be seen as interchangeable, this textual repetition will be found throughout the play as an indicator of the repetitiveness of life in general for Vladimir and Estragon.

Vladimir's discussion of the story of the two thieves brings up the question of textual uncertainty. He points out that the four gospels present entirely different versions of this story, and wonders why one of these versions is accepted as definitive. This question about the reliability of texts might cause the reader (or audience) of this play to question the reliability of this particular text. Also, the repetition of the story by the four gospels might allude to the repetitiveness of the action of the play.

The repetitiveness of the play is best illustrated by Estragon's repeated requests to leave, which are followed each time by Vladimir telling him that they cannot leave because they are waiting for Godot. The exact repetition of the lines each time this dialogue appears, including the stage directions, reinforces the idea that the same actions occur over and over again and suggests that these actions happen more times than the play presents.

In this beginning section we get the only clue of the nature of Vladimir and Estragon's relationship with Godot. They mention that they asked Godot for "a kind of prayer...a vague supplication," which he is currently considering. This creates a parallel between Godot and God, also suggested by their similar names, and it seems that Vladimir and Estragon do consider Godot a kind of religious figure when they mention coming in on their hands and knees.