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Waiting for Godot

by Samuel Beckett

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Exploring Pozzo and Lucky's Relationship in "Waiting for Godot"


Pozzo and Lucky's relationship in "Waiting for Godot" is characterized by a master-slave dynamic. Pozzo exercises control and dominance over Lucky, who obeys without question. This relationship reflects themes of dependency, power, and existentialism, illustrating the absurdity and futility of human existence as portrayed in Samuel Beckett's play.

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Discuss Pozzo and Lucky's relationship in "Waiting for Godot" from a post-colonial perspective.

The relationship between Pozzo and Lucky illustrates well the complexities of the relationship between England and Ireland. At first glance, Pozzo (England; the colonizer) leads Lucky (Ireland; the colonized) around by the throat, forcing him to go where he leads, at the pace he leads. Pozzo insults Lucky by calling him names and threatening to sell him to a stranger in town. Lucky endures the abuse, even crying at the thought of being separated from Pozzo. However, a closer examination of the duo reveals that they are indeed interdependent.

Lucky attends to Pozzo's every whim and carries all of his baggage. This could be viewed as a reference to Ireland as the workhorse of the British Empire, providing nearly all of the food for England. (As an example, the Irish Potato Famine starved out so many in Ireland because the English would not reduce their dependence on Irish agriculture, taking just as much from the country as before the blight.) As Ireland served as the agricultural force for England, it was still dependent on England for military protection and industry.

One could argue that the interdependence between the two is only the result of a corrupting force, i.e. imperialism. England is only dependent on Ireland because it outsources its agriculture and has no means of feeding its people without them; Ireland cannot defend itself because it was taken over by force by the British military, which now protects it. Pozzo alludes to this circular fate by reasoning that he could have been the slave if circumstances were different.

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In what ways do Lucky and Pozzo contribute to the thematic structure of the play, Waiting for Godot?

Thematic structure – this term is quite useful in a discussion of this work, because Beckett is dealing with the essential duality of mind and body, the two problematic elements in human existence. Of course, as has been pointed out numerous times, Gogo and Didi, in their actions, their obsessions with feet and heads, boots and hats, etc. are character examples of this essential duality in Mankind. This thematic structure is reiterated several times, as in the two messenger boys, the two seasons, even the two-act play structure. But the most telling of these dualities is the pair of Pozzo (putatively the order-giver) and Lucky (the slave, subject to the demands of the mind, but locked into the physical world – food, the stool, the rope,etc.) It is ironic and dramatic genius, then, for Beckett to have Lucky dance and talk nonsense (“Think, pig!”) in Act II, a parody of the inability for mind and body to communicate effectively. Here is Beckett’s larger theme, our need to find “meaning” and “direction” by resorting to our own facticity, not relying on the presence of "Godot" to give us the ability to choose (that is, invent). Pozzo and Lucky make the existential condition universal.

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In what ways does Pozzo and Lucky's relationship contribute to the thematic structure of the play Waiting for Godot?

This pair of characters serve as an excellent reflection of the main pair, Gogo and Didi, in four important respects.  First, the pairing itself speaks to Beckett's idea that our existence answers to two forces -- the mental and the physical.  Numerous critical observations note the hat-shoe and head-foot dualities through the main "plot" (an odd word when discussing a "play in which nothing happens -- twice."  The same relation is reflected in Pozzo and Lucky's arrangement:  Lucky deals with all the physical needs -- food, stool, etc. while Pozzo makes all the decisions about what to do next.  (That's why his order to Lucky to "Think, Pig!" is so humorous and chaotic in its result--a parody of the inability to communicate in general).  Secondly, the master-slave relationship reverses in the second act, just as Gogo's and Didi's reverses in the second act.  Thirdly, the concentration on food and its scarcity and nonvariety is reflected.  Finally, the plights of both pairs to find "meaning" in their existence is  thematically echoic.  Incidentally, this play was one of the first to use a two-act structure instead of the three-act structure.

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What is the relationship between Pozzo and Lucky in Waiting for Godot?

The relationship between Pozzo and Lucky in act 1 appears to be along the lines of slave and slave master. Pozzo treats Lucky like he is subhuman, keeping Lucky on a rope as if he is an animal. At one point, Pozzo even refers to Lucky as a “pig.”

Pozzo expects Lucky to follow his commands without hesitation. If Pozzo wants his coat, Lucky has to bring him his coat. If Pozzo wants Lucky to hold his whip, even if Lucky’s hands are full, he must figure out a way to hold his whip (Lucky ends up holding Pozzo’s whip in his mouth).

Sometimes, Pozzo dehumanizes Lucky in other ways. Pozzo not only treats Lucky as a slave who must obey every single one of his orders, but he also views Lucky as a source of entertainment. Pozzo makes Lucky dance and pontificate (“Think!”) for his own amusement and for the pleasure of Vladimir and Estragon.

In act 2, the relationship changes somewhat. Lucky still plays the role of Pozzo’s slave or servant, more or less, yet Pozzo is not as powerful as he was in act 1. Now, Pozzo is blind. His blindness leads to an accident that causes Lucky and Pozzo to fall down. That both have fallen suggests that their relationship is equaling out a bit. The newfound balance in their relationship is further evinced by the fact that both Pozzo and Lucky suffer abuse from Estragon and Vladimir.

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What does Pozzo call Lucky in "Waiting for Godot"?

When we first meet Pozzo and Lucky, the latter has a rope tied around his neck and enters the stage first. He is followed by his master, Pozzo. The fact that Pozzo enters after Lucky signals that the rope serves as a lead, and this, in turn, implies that Lucky (the name is, of course, deeply ironic) is as a dog to Pozzo. Lucky carries Pozzo's bags, and Pozzo carries a whip with which to strike Lucky. The first time Pozzo speaks he tells Vladimir and Estragon that Lucky is "wicked," suggesting that his abuse of Lucky is some kind of deserved punishment.

A little later, looking as if he is about to leave, he jerks at the rope and shouts at Lucky, "Up pig!" and "Up hog!" By speaking to Lucky in this way and by addressing him as a "pig" and a "hog," Pozzo is degrading and dehumanizing Lucky. As far as Pozzo is concerned, Lucky is an animal rather than a human and, like pigs, belongs in the dirt and exists to serve men.

Later in the play, once Lucky is given a hat, he actually proves to be capable of thought and speech, although much of it seems to be nonsensical. Nonetheless, he speaks for a considerable time, and sometimes his words are poetical—for example, "the flames the tears the stones so blue so calm." Lucky's monologue shows how much he has been reduced by Pozzo. There is in Lucky's words the suggestion of a man who was once articulate and thoughtful, which makes Pozzo's treatment of him, as a "pig" and a "hog," all the more appalling.

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