When does the action in "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett take place?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett is an essentially abstract play that does not locate itself in a specific time or place. The physical environment, which consists of an empty stage with a single tree, gives us no clues about period. Although Lucky appears as a slave, and one could say that this might indicate a period before the abolition of slavery, in fact, the slavery is meant as psychological rather than literal; there are no indications in the stage directions that this play should be done using period costumes, and there are no explicit linguistic markers or culture references that try to give the play a period flavor. Instead, it is intended to exist outside time. The characters have been waiting for so long that all days blend together. Thus we should describe the play as dramatically set outside ordinary time, within abstract, imaginary, or absurdist time. The temporal confusion in the play is scene in the following excerpt:

VLADIMIR:     He said Saturday. (Pause.) I think.
ESTRAGON:    You think.
VLADIMIR:     I must have made a note of it....
ESTRAGON:  But what Saturday? And is it Saturday? Is it not rather Sunday? (Pause.) Or Monday? (Pause.) Or Friday?