Waiting for Godot is sometimes called "the play in which nothing happens twice." The fact that this is not quite true may be taken as a demonstration that there is no such thing as nothing or, alternatively, that there is no such thing as a perfect reproduction in an imperfect world. The two acts are very similar: much more similar than the first and second halves of most plays, and very much more like each other than either is like any part of any other play. Nonetheless, there are inevitably differences. There is even progress of a kind. The smallness of the differences increases the concentration of the audience. It is an irony applicable throughout life and literature that the smaller the differences are, the more inclined people are to focus on them.
Act 1 opens with a leafless tree, beside which Estragon is struggling to take off his boot. At the beginning of act 2, the boots have been removed and placed center-stage, along with Lucky's hat. The tree has four or five leaves. This, immediately, is change and even progress. When Pozzo and Lucky enter for the first time as master and slave, they both make long speeches. Pozzo is grandiloquent and pompous; Lucky, in perhaps the most famous speech in the play, talks gibberish, which is perhaps a parody of scholarly exegesis. When they return, Pozzo, instead of driving Lucky with a whip like an animal, is led on by him like Oedipus by Antigone. It is another famous blind man of Greek drama to whom Estragon refers when he wonders whether Pozzo, like Tiresias, can see the future. In any case, there has clearly been change, perhaps even progress.
It is the ends of both acts that are as alike as possible. Vladimir and Estragon agree to go but do not move. Perhaps this illustrates a general truth about life and death: while many experiences are shared, there are differences in the middles of our lives, even apparent progress, and some small differences in our beginnings. Our ends, however, are all the same.