What is the subject matter & plot of Waiting for Godot?   

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Waiting for Godot, Vladimir and Estragon discuss how they are waiting for someone named Godot who never arrives. They know that they should wait by the tree, but are not entirely sure if they have the right tree. Time is presented surreally in the play, with a sense that the scene of waiting is repeated infintely in a worlld in which time and place are constructed in the minds of the characters rather than as external objective realities. The characters do not really know who Godot is and might not recognize Godot if they see him. A boy is used as a messenger to inform the characters that Godot will not appear "today" but may appear "tomorrow."

Two other characters, the master Pozzo and the slave Lucky, enter in the second act and are initially mistaken for Godot. Although Pozzo is in theory the master, he (in a parody of Hegel) is increasingly shown to be dependent on his slave Lucky.

Godot symbolizes the God of Messianic religion, who is expected at some time in the futuire as the salvation of the characters, but never actually arrives. Lucky, as a thinker, attempts metaphysical knowledge of God, but his speech fades to nonsense. Vladimir and Estragonwait by the tree (the tree of the Gareden of Eden which is typologically the cross) and discuss religious and other themes, but don't actually understand what they are waiting for or why. Like many of Beckett's plays, this is a deeply pessimistic portrait of the futility of human existence, and the failure of Messianic religion to save humanity from an absurd and indifferent universe.

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Waiting for Godot

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