Waiting for Godot Characters
The main characters in Waiting for Godot include Vladimir, Estragon, Pozzo, Lucky, the boy, and Godot.
- Vladimir is an elderly tramp who joins Estragon near a country road to wait for Godot.
- Estragon is another tramp, who considers hanging himself with Vladimir if Godot never arrives.
- Pozzo is a materialist who treats his servant, Lucky, like a pack mule.
- Lucky is Pozzo’s servant, who delivers a wild, brilliant monologue about God.
- The boy is a goatherd who delivers messages from Godot.
- Godot is a mysterious figure who never comes to Estragon and Vladimir.
Last Updated on January 13, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 301
Vladimir and Estragon
Vladimir (vla-dee-MEER), also called Didi (dee-DEE), and Estragon (ehs-tra-GOH[N]), also called Gogo (goh-GOH), are two tramps. In this play, action is unimportant; the characters remain undeveloped as they wait impatiently for Godot, who remains a mysterious entity, possibly a local landowner but also a symbol of spiritual seeking. They gnaw carrots, rest their tired feet, and engage in other simple activities while their conversations reveal the helplessness of their situation. Throughout the play, there is every suggestion that the two live estranged from a state of grace that is hoped for but never realized. Often considering suicide, they are caught in a calm of inactivity between hope and despair in their longing for salvation, which is linked somehow with Godot. When the play ends, the two are still waiting for the promised appearance of Godot.
Pozzo (poh-ZOH) is a materialist. A rich, boisterous tyrant, he is obviously an expounder of Nietzschean doctrines and materialistic concepts. Pozzo admits that Lucky has taught him all the beautiful things he knows, but now his servant has become unbearable and is driving him mad. At first, he drives his servant with a rope. Later, when Pozzo reappears, blinded in symbolic fashion by his own worldly successes and romantic pessimism, he must be led by his mute servant.
Lucky is Pozzo’s servant. Born a peasant, he gives the impression of a new proletarian, the symbol of modern people’s belief in the promises and miracles of science. Lucky first appears driven by Pozzo at the end of a rope. Ordered to think for the group, he delivers the wildest, most brilliantly sustained monologue of the play. When he next appears, he is leading the blind Pozzo, but he is mute.
The boy is a messenger from Godot.
Last Updated on January 13, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 741
The messenger who arrives near the end of each act to inform Vladimir and Estragon that Mr. Godot will not arrive is simply called “boy.” Timid and fearful, he addresses Vladimir as Mr. Albert and admits in the first act that Pozzo and his whip had frightened him and kept him from entering sooner. He claims that he tends goats for Mr. Godot and that Godot is good to him, though he admits that Godot beats the boy’s brother. On each visit the boy claims to have not seen Vladimir and Estragon before. In the second act the boy reports that he thinks Godot has a white beard.
Estragon is one of the two men (often referred to as “tramps”) who are waiting for Mr. Godot. He is the first to appear in the play and is more docile and timid than his friend, Vladimir; Estragon usually follows Vladimir’s lead. At times assertive, Estragon is more emotional and volatile than Vladimir but less engaged—he gives up more easily, does a lot of sleeping, likes to dream, and forgets more easily. He even forgets Godot’s name at one point. He is confused more frequently than Vladimir and is more frequently afraid—perhaps because he is the one more often beaten and physically abused by others. He has bad feet, which hurt him in his too-small boots and which smell when he has his boots off. He is more skeptical and questions more than Vladimir, doubts Godot more, and is more often anxious to leave or to travel separately from his friend. Estragon, along with Pozzo, does the eating in the play. If Estragon and Vladimir are Laurel and Hardy, Estragon is Stan Laurel, the skinny one who is frequently confused, frightened, and whiny.
Lucky is the miserable slave or “menial” whom Pozzo drives on stage in Act I and blindly follows in Act II, but while Pozzo’s fortune and character changes Lucky’s remains fairly similar. In the first act he is an abused beast of burden, an automaton carrying a huge load and suffering from neck abrasions where Pozzo violently jerks his halter. Lucky is understandably sad and quiet, but he is also loyal to Pozzo, eager to please, and violent himself when Estragon gets near enough to be kicked. His “thinking” seems full of a desperate energy that may come from an attempt to communicate his sadness. In the second act Lucky is mute and mostly sleeps. Lucky has long white hair that falls down around his face.
Pozzo is the bald, brutal, insensitive, and overbearing figure who intimidates Estragon and Vladimir in the first act of the play after he drives his “slave,” Lucky, onto the scene. Pozzo is a sadistic bully with a large body and a huge voice who violently abuses Lucky, both physically and psychologically, forcing Lucky with whip and halter to serve his every whim and need. In the first act Pozzo seems wealthy, self-assured, and powerful. However, in the second act, Pozzo is blind and a much different person. He still has Lucky on a rope and calls him his “menial,” but Pozzo now is timid, frightened, vulnerable, and helpless as he falls to the ground and cannot rise without assistance.
Vladimir is the more forceful, optimistic, and resilient of the two “tramps” waiting for Mr. Godot, but he is also sensitive, easily hurt, and quickly frustrated. He is extremely caring and protective of his friend, Estragon, and he more courageously expresses his outrage at Pozzo’s mistreatment of Lucky. He usually leads Estragon in their games to “pass the time,” and he initially represents the pair when strangers like Pozzo and the boy appear. Vladimir is the one most confident that Godot will appear and the most insistent that they meet their obligations by waiting. He is more of a thinker and philosopher than Estragon and remembers the past much more clearly, though his memory frustrates him when other people don’t remember things the way he does. He sometimes becomes angry in these situations but occasionally doubts his own certainty. This more intellectual quality leads Vladimir to be more deeply brooding and gloomy but also more persistent than his friend. Vladimir has stinking breath and kidney problems. If Estragon and Vladimir are Laurel and Hardy, Vladimir is Oliver Hardy, the fat one who does the “thinking” but is frequently dead wrong.