Discuss the two tramps in Beckett's Waiting for Godot, and what they might represent in comparison to Pozzo and Lucky.

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The two tramps in Samuel Beckett's play, Waiting for Godot, are Estragon and Vladimir. They seem to represent "human potential." The men have obviously known each other for a number of years. They are both "waiting for Godot." Though these men once led very different lives of respectability, both are now poverty-stricken and terribly disconsolate. They are suprised they have survived so long: they agree that they could or should have killed themselves years ago.

Pozzo and his slave, Lucky, appear: two more men that seem to lack any measure of happiness. Pozzo is someone who immerses himself in unhappy truths about life. He sees nothing of value in the world around him, and it seems he'd be fine if everyone was as dejected as he is—Pozzo is particularly pessimistic; he is also extremely unkind to Lucky. However, as nasty as Pozzo is with Lucky, the slave becomes violent when Estragon offers him help, kicking the older man. For Pozzo and Lucky, both are miserable, but neither seems to wish for anything to be different—perhaps believing there is nothing else.

The tramps symbolize those who are downtrodden, who do not know how to improve their lives—though perhaps they would if they had the opportunity—Godot may represent this. The fact that they wait unceasingly for Godot would indicate that they have hope: otherwise, why would they wait so long for someone who repeatedly does not appear? What would be the purpose? And why would they start each day with the same intent?

Lucky has no interest in bettering his life. We learn that he doesn't want to be sold by Pozzo (which is what Pozzo plans to do). However, this also represents how we sometimes are: we may be unhappy, but at least it is an unhappiness that we are familiar with. Sometimes we will tolerate a disastrous situation just because we don't want to change.

A boy comes to report that Godot won't be there that day, but will be there the following day. Pozzo and Lucky are unaffected by this, but Estragon and Vladimir continue to wait. In the second act, the same situation exists, but some time must have passed for Pozzo is now blind and Lucky is dumb. While Estragon and Vladimir seem much the same, Pozzo and Lucky's situation has degraded considerably. Perhaps hope allows the friends to remain sustained, and hopelessness causes the latter two to fail in their physical condition as they have allowed their spirits and hearts to fail over the years. The boy returns with the same message. Though Godot never appears, Estragon and Vladimir wait, perhaps holding on to their the idea that there is nothing else to do...or that maybe he will come...tomorrow.


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Waiting for Godot

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