Act I, Section A-3: Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 749

New Characters:
Lucky: male, looks very old and tired; has long gray hair and bulging eyes; his neck has running sores caused by the rope that is tied around it; once a great dancer and thinker, he now serves as Pozzo’s slave; carries Pozzo’s things and responds to his commands; has a temper that he uses against Estragon, and cries easily

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Pozzo: gentleman landowner; bald and old; commanding presence; sadistic owner of Lucky; occasionally wears glasses, smokes a pipe

Lucky enters with a rope around his neck. He is carrying “a heavy bag, a folding stool, a picnic basket and a greatcoat.” Behind him, jerking the end of the long rope, is Pozzo. He is cracking a whip and yelling out commands.

At first, Estragon thinks this may be Godot. However, in a “terrifying voice,” Pozzo introduces himself. He seems surprised that Estragon and Vladimir do not know of him. He puts on his glasses to make sure they “are human.”

Pozzo inquires about Godot. This is Pozzo’s land, although he admits, “The road is free to all”, he wants to know why Estragon and Vladimir are there.

Almost immediately, however, he loses interest. He has his own business to attend to. Referring to Lucky as “pig” and “hog,” he orders him to give him his coat, hold the whip, and open the stool so he can sit.

Lucky does as he is told, moving back and forth from his original spot. In between commands, he lifts the remaining baggage and stands motionless.

Pozzo sits down.

This section introduces the second couple, Pozzo and Lucky, who are caricatures of the archetypical Master-Slave relationship from Phenomenology of the Mind by Hegel (1770-1831). It is the second pairing in the play, and provides a contrast to the relationship between Didi and Gogo. Each couple becomes more meaningful because of the other. When Pozzo and Lucky enter at the beginning of A-3, they are literally “tied” to each other with a rope. It is natural that Estragon assumes one of them is Godot, especially since Pozzo is pronounced “Pot-so,” with the accent on the first syllable. Vladimir and Estragon play with his name for a bit, before concluding that he is not.

It is safe to assume that Beckett has carefully chosen the names of his characters. Estragon and Vladimir have eight letters and three syllables each. Their nicknames, Gogo and Didi, are both repetitive and childish, and have two letters and two syllables each. Pozzo and Lucky have five letters and two syllables each. Also, their names connote a European cross-section. Estragon is a French name; Vladimir is Russian; Pozzo is Italian; and Lucky is English.

Every word in this play is carefully chosen. Beckett exhibits a linguistic precision at all times, in all of his translations. The language is purposefully repetitive; there is not one wasted word or insignificant allusion in the play.

The psychological significance of these characters is open to debate. Some critics have said that the four figures represent four components of contemporary man. There is an inability to let go in all of them, even though they stagnate together. Pozzo, the pompous and tyrannical landlord, has the need to control. Lucky, his slave and victim, has the need to be protected. Vladimir remains impotent, though somewhat self-conscious: “I felt lonely.” Estragon occasionally invokes the unconscious: “I had a dream.”

By silent agreement, Pozzo and Lucky have entered into a sado-masochistic bondage. Vladimir and Estragon have the symbiotic love-hate relationship of some unhappy couples.

This was not Beckett’s interpretation. Although he was well versed in the writings of Freud and Jung, he rarely engaged in this kind of psychobabble. When his actors asked for explanations, he gave them physical and visual images instead (Estragon’s mound, Vladimir’s tree, Pozzo’s whip, Lucky’s neck). However, he once commented that Pozzo was a weak character with the need to overcompensate.

The origins of the couple idea first appeared in Beckett’s novel, Le Voyage de Mercier et Camier, which remained unpublished for a long time. Mercier may be representative of the mind, the Camier, the body. The similarities to Didi and Gogo are clear. Didi of Act I speaks as mind, and Gogo as body. Didi ponders spiritual salvation, while Gogo eats, sleeps, and is afraid of being beaten. This duality (referred to by Beckett as the “pseudocouple”), was said to have replaced the old protagonist and antagonist of dramatic tradition.

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