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Identify some deictic cases in Waiting for Godot, and discuss their importance.

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winter567 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted January 3, 2013 at 5:24 PM via web

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Identify some deictic cases in Waiting for Godot, and discuss their importance.

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted January 4, 2013 at 2:14 AM (Answer #1)

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An odd question, but one with significance to this particular play. Deictic parts of speech make clear the relation of speaker to hearer (in drama, between characters, not between actor and audience). In Godot the very perplexity of the characters’ presence (is it in the present, or in their memories, or in their imaginations?) makes the characters tentative and unsure about their situation. For example, the word “here” in a sentence like “Were we here yesterday?” or “We were supposed to wait here” etc. takes on a philosophical patina when the “here” referred to deictically is not a matter of geography but of perception. In the second pair—Pozzo and Lucky—their situation is actually free of deictic expression, because their relationship to their past and their future, and the obscurity of their origin and destination, is part and parcel of their dramatic situation. Some utterances—“Leave him in peace!”, “Never a soul in sight!” “I’m going!” “Where are we?”etc. border on deictic utterance, as does Didi’s question to the messenger “You sure you saw me…?” Where shall we go? Far away from here.” The barren tree at the center of the stage is as close as these characters come to being oriented in space. As for that aspect of deictic speech that simply refers to a specific person in a context, one of the distinct differences between Gogo and Didi is their identification with head (thought) and feet (physicality), so every mention of shoes or hats can be seen as deictic. Finally, the art of acting (gestures, poses, proxemics, etc.) is all a deictic discourse.

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