What is the significance of Lucky's speech in Waiting for Godot?

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In the (almost) seventy years since Waiting for Godot debuted, scholars studying Samuel Beckett have expended a lot of energy trying to decipher what’s going on in Lucky’s infamous outburst. Everyone seems to have a theory: that the monologue is just gibberish; that it’s an elaborately coded puzzle which will yield great insights to the person who’s able to decipher it; that it’s full of allusions and wordplay which echo themes from within the play itself; that it’s a vicious parody of academia and self-described experts. It’s probably most accurate to say that all of those theories are more or less true. Lucky’s speech doesn’t make a lot of sense (at least on the surface), but neither is it completely void of significance.

It helps to know several things about Samuel Beckett. One, for most of Beckett’s career, he attempted to keep his writing style completely unadorned and as minimal as he could reasonably get it. Two, he was painfully precise; some actors who worked with...

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