Broadly discuss the characteristics of Vladimir in Waiting for Godot?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The character of Vladimir is basically the main character, and the one who basically moves the plot forward, in Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot.

Vladimir is the strongest man inthe Vladimir-Estragon relationship. He is assertive, clearly an initiator, and he is the one character which is most hopeful for the entrance of Godot in the play. He consistently motivates Estragon to continue waiting. He also protects Estragon, has the leading role in the relationship, watches after Estragon's smelly shoes, and seems to have quite a sentimental and emotional nature. This latter characteristic is a result of his consistent pondering in what is fair and unfair. He is the philosopher of the play and, literary speaking, the voice that expresses the existentialist stream of the play.

Physically speaking, we know that Vladimir and Estragon both wear bowler hats and suits, but they are in a lower social status than Pozzo. For this reason, they are described to us as "tramps" who are untidy and on dire straits. Vladimir is sickly, and he is known to have bad breath. His kindness seems to make up for his weaknesses and downfalls. In all, he is basically a good guy.

Intellectually, Vladimir is smarter and more aware of his surroundings than  Estragon. This advantage allows him to perceive the nature of Pozzo and his injustice with Lucky. Vladimir seems to be an idealist that honestly believes the things that he has been taught to believe, such as the existence of Godot. His existential analysis of life and fate are the pivotal elements that move the play forward. He is undoubtedly the main character in right and essence.

Socially, we know that Vladimir is an idealist and wishes for people to treat each other as they should: Fairly, humanely, respectfully. He detests Pozzo's abusive ways with Lucky and, perhaps for this reason, he is even more protective of Estragon. In all, Vladimir is a born philosopher.

In all, Vladimir is the heartbeat of the play. He is Estragon's and Pozzo's foil in that he is both thoughtful and kind, respectively. He represents the stratus of society that believes in something and lives by it. In modern terms, he may represent us all: The people who dream, the people believe, and the people who aspire. However, as in every absurdist play, we will see that Vladimir will not go too far, unfortunately, as Godot never really shows up.

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