Waiting for Godot Summary
by Samuel Beckett

Waiting for Godot book cover
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Waiting for Godot Summary

Waiting for Godot is a play in which two old men, Estragon and Vladimir, wait for someone named Godot to arrive.

  • Estragon and Vladimir meet near a country road. They consider suicide while waiting for Godot.
  • Pozzo and his slave Lucky approach the men. Lucky delivers a speech about God and hell.
  • A young goatherd delivers a message from Godot, promising he’ll come tomorrow. 
  • A different day, Estragon reports that Godot is coming, but instead, Lucky approaches with Pozzo.The goatherd returns to say that Godot will come tomorrow. Estragon and Vladimir decide they'll hang themselves if Godot doesn't come.

Summary

Summary of the Play
Waiting for Godot is a play in two acts. Act I begins on a country road by a tree. It is evening. Estragon, an old man, is sitting on a low mound trying to remove his boot. Vladimir, another old man, joins him. They begin to chat.

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They have apparently known each other for years. Once perhaps respectable, they are now homeless, debilitated, and often suicidal. They wonder out loud why they did not kill themselves years ago; they consider the possibility of doing it today. They are waiting for someone they call “Godot”. While they wait, they share conversation, food, and memories.

Two other elderly men, Pozzo and Lucky, arrive on the scene. It is clear that Pozzo is the master, and Lucky is the slave. Upon command, the slave dances and thinks out loud for the entertainment of the others, until he is forcibly silenced.

After Lucky and Pozzo depart, a boy arrives. He tells Estragon and Vladimir that Godot will not be there today, but will be there tomorrow. He leaves, and they continue to wait.

The second act is almost the same as the first. The tree has sprouted leaves, Estragon and Vladimir chat while they wait for Godot, and Pozzo and Lucky arrive again. This time, Pozzo is blind and helpless, and Lucky is mute.

After some interaction, Pozzo and Lucky leave, and the boy arrives. He has the same message as before. Godot will be there tomorrow. Estragon and Vladimir are left to wait as before.

The Life and Work of Samuel Beckett
“I have a clear memory of my own fetal existence. It was an existence where no voice, no possible movement could free me from the agony and darkness I was subjected to.” So says Samuel Barclay Beckett who was born on or about Good Friday, April 13, 1906. He was born in Foxrock, a suburb of Dublin, Ireland, in a large house called Cooldrinagh.

Here, in this secluded three story Tudor home, surrounded by acres of gardens, a croquet lawn, stables for his mother’s donkeys and dogs, a hen house, and a tennis court, Beckett and his older brother spent their childhood. High brick walls separated them from the outside world, and ensured them uninterrupted tea parties, piano lessons, and formal dinners.

Their much-loved father took them hiking and swimming. Their mother, against whom Beckett rebelled almost all of his life, took them to church. By the time they were five, the boys were in school. By the time they were 12, they were local tennis champions—aiming all shots at their opponents’ heads.

Before he left for boarding school in 1920, Beckett had already developed into an avid reader. He kept his books on a small shelf above his bed, along with busts of Shakespeare and Dante. At boarding school, he excelled at sports, and received a solid educational foundation. He entered Trinity College (Dublin) in 1923.

There he became an intellectual. He read Descartes, French poetry, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and Apollinaire, and discovered the theatre of O’Casey and Pirandello. He was also rebellious and moody. He had a reputation for reckless driving, heavy drinking, and irreverent behavior. In spite of this, he graduated first in his class in 1927 with a major in modern languages.

In preparation for a teaching career at Trinity, Beckett went to France, where he worked with James Joyce, did research on René Descartes, and won a prize for his poem, Whoroscope. He wrote a study on

(The entire section is 3,558 words.)