Waiting for Godot

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Godot Character Analysis

While Godot never appears on stage or has any lines, he is such a significant absence in the play that he may be rightly recognized as one of the play's characters. What little we can gather about Mr. Godot comes from the dialogue of Estragon, Vladimir, and the boy he sends to deliver his message. The boy says that he watches over Godot's goats, and describes Godot as a relatively kind master. Whoever Godot is, Vladimir and Estragon are convinced that he alone will save them, so they wait endlessly for his arrival, which never comes. Because of his name's resemblance to God, Godot is often read as Beckett's pessimistic version of God, an absent savior who never comes to the aid of those suffering on earth.

Godot Quotes in Waiting for Godot

The Waiting for Godot quotes below are all either spoken by Godot or refer to Godot. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Humor and the Absurd Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Grove Press edition of Waiting for Godot published in 1994.
Act 1 Quotes

You're sure it was this evening?
What?
That we were to wait.
He said Saturday. (Pause.) I think

Related Characters: Estragon (speaker), Vladimir (speaker), Godot
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

The two speak here about their anticipation for the play’s titular “Godot.” Yet instead of expressing confidence in his arrival, they reveal a complete lack of certainty.

The vagueness of their knowledge parallels the earlier stage direction which specified only “evening” with no indication as to day or era. That choice left the viewer or reader untethered to time, and these lines shows that the characters exist in a corresponding state. (It is always important, with Beckett, to distinguish when certain confusions or clarities are inherent to the world of the text and thus experienced by the characters, or whether they stem from the audience’s distance from the world.) Here, the play’s bizarre, timeless space is a common feature between audience and character. In particular, Estragon and Vladimir are deeply challenged by the simple activity of arranging a meeting. In their their reality, time cannot be tracked, so even the most basic social functions break down.

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To Godot? Tied to Godot! What an idea! No question of it. (Pause.) For the moment.

Related Characters: Vladimir (speaker), Godot
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

Vladimir responds, here, to Estragon asking if they are currently tied to Godot. He explains that such an idea would be ridiculous, but then implies that it might be possible and even desirable in the future.

One of the beauties of the play is that “Godot” can be taken as a symbol for many different things: God, a bond to civilization, a rescuer, etc. In the broadest sense, he offers some kind of redemptive alternative to the desperate, unmoored characters. Currently the two remain, without question, not “tied to Godot,” for they have not yet made a social connection with them. But whereas Estragon continues to see that lack of being tied as positive, Vladimir implies with the artful pause and line “For the moment” that they may indeed want to be. Perhaps, after all, escaping the scene would mean becoming “tied” to Godot. On one level, this might simply mean having forged a social connection that requires humane treatment and gives emotional support. On another level, it might mean using Godot to reconnect themselves to a society with rights and social norms.

Let's go.
We can't.
Why not?
We're waiting for Godot.

Related Characters: Estragon (speaker), Vladimir (speaker), Godot
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

After Pozzo and Lucky depart, Estragon immediately becomes bored once more and recommends that he and Vladimir leave as well. Vladimir reproaches him again, reminding the forgetful Estragon of their reason for staying in the same spot.

The lines reiterate the fickleness of Estragon’s memory; his mind immediately resets after every interaction, as if each moment is the beginning to a new play. In this way, he is much like a child who cannot track the progress of time or link earlier events to previous ones. He lives purely and perpetually in the present. Before, we might have believed in Vladimir as a voice of authority through his ability to form narratives and recall events. But by now the pointlessness of waiting has begun to seep in. The audience begins to wonder whether Estragon is perhaps correct in wishing to abandon their quest of waiting, and whether an eternal present might actually be a better response to a world without meaning. Beckett, then, has set up a scenario to call into question our presumptions about who holds authority in a situation of desperation. He demands that we be more skeptical of those who promise a future spiritual salvation, though Beckett never offers a clear alternative.

Mr. Godot told me to tell you he won't come this evening but surely tomorrow.

Related Characters: Boy (speaker), Godot
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

After the interrogation from Vladimir and Estragon, the Boy finally gives his message. But that memo does not convey much real meaning, and rather serves to revert the characters to their bored state of waiting.

This rhetoric of expected arrival further casts Godot as a religious symbol. Though he is presumed to offer some kind of eternal salvation for the characters, his presence is constantly delayed and merely promised by others. At this point in the play, the emptiness of these words is not quite clear, for the Boy has only appeared once. But already Vladimir’s comments on how events and people seem to be repeating themselves indicate that the Boy may have said these words before. That is to say, perhaps the lengthy, nihilism-induced wait for Godot has been caused by a series of forgotten “but surely tomorrow”s.

Tell him... (he hesitates)... tell him you saw us. (Pause.) You did see us, didn't you?

Related Characters: Vladimir (speaker), Godot, Boy
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

As the Boy leaves, Vladimir makes this desperate appeal to human recognition. He first asks the Boy to represent them to Godot, but more simply just asks to have been seen.

Recognition is, by now, one of Vladimir’s fixations. He has repeatedly claimed to recall and identify other characters, but they refuse to affirm him in return. And, as a result, Vladimir has begun to doubt his own mental capacities. Thus for the boy to see them and tell Godot about them would signal far more than just conveying simple information. For Vladimir, it would imply that they have been remembered—and that they are significant and meaningful human beings. Beneath this appeal also lies a deep skepticism in even the most simple of human processes: vision. Considering the twilight setting and the motif of blindness in the second act, Vladimir becomes concerned that his existential worries are perhaps the result of the most simple misrecognition: an inability to even see other people.

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Godot Character Timeline in Waiting for Godot

The timeline below shows where the character Godot appears in Waiting for Godot. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Humor and the Absurd Theme Icon
Waiting, Boredom, and Nihilism Theme Icon
Modernism and Postmodernism Theme Icon
...go somewhere, but Vladimir tells him they can't, because they are waiting for someone named Godot. Estragon asks if Vladimir is sure that they are in the right place, and Vladimir... (full context)
Humor and the Absurd Theme Icon
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...two agree that the tree is more like a bush or shrub. Vladimir doubts whether Godot will really come. Estragon asks what they will do if he doesn't come, and Vladimir... (full context)
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Time Theme Icon
...they were supposed to come. Estragon doubts what day it is and worries that maybe Godot came yesterday and they weren't there to meet him. (full context)
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...says it's safer to do nothing at all. Vladimir suggests they wait and see what Godot says. (full context)
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Vladimir says he is interested to hear what Godot will offer them. Estragon asks what they asked Godot for and Vladimir says nothing very... (full context)
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Humanity, Companionship, Suffering, and Dignity Theme Icon
Vladimir says he thought he had heard Godot. Estragon says he's hungry and Vladimir offers him a carrot, but then all he can... (full context)
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...are "tied." Vladimir asks what he means and Estragon asks if they are tied to Godot. Vladimir says they are, at least for the moment. Estragon asks if they are sure... (full context)
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Estragon asks Vladimir if this is Godot, but then Pozzo introduces himself by name and asks if they are not familiar with... (full context)
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Pozzo asks who Godot is. Vladimir says he's an acquaintance, but Estragon says they hardly know him. Pozzo asks... (full context)
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Humanity, Companionship, Suffering, and Dignity Theme Icon
...tells him to think carefully, asking what would happen if Vladimir missed his "appointment" with Godot. Pozzo says he would like to meet Godot as well, since, as he says, "the... (full context)
Humor and the Absurd Theme Icon
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...and that he wouldn't want to leave before nightfall either if he were waiting for Godot. He says he'd like to sit down on his stool again, but doesn't know how.... (full context)
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...so Estragon suggests they leave, but Vladimir says they can't, since they are waiting for Godot. (full context)
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...Vladimir yell at him to approach. The boy says he has a message from Mr. Godot. Estragon asks why the boy is so late, and the boy says it's not his... (full context)
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The boy finally delivers his message: "Mr. Godot told me to tell you that he won't come this evening but surely tomorrow." Vladimir... (full context)
Humanity, Companionship, Suffering, and Dignity Theme Icon
...boy he can leave, and the boy asks what message he should bring back to Godot. He asks the boy to tell Godot that he saw them. The boy leaves, as... (full context)
Humor and the Absurd Theme Icon
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...says they have nothing to do here, but says that tomorrow will be better, because Godot will come tomorrow. Estragon says that they should wait here, then, but Vladimir says they... (full context)
Act 2
Humor and the Absurd Theme Icon
Waiting, Boredom, and Nihilism Theme Icon
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...do we do now, now that we are happy?" and Vladimir suggests they wait for Godot. Estragon wonders what will happen if Godot doesn't come, but Vladimir says that things are... (full context)
Humor and the Absurd Theme Icon
Waiting, Boredom, and Nihilism Theme Icon
...Estragon asks what they should do, and Vladimir again answers that they should wait for Godot. (full context)
Waiting, Boredom, and Nihilism Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...tired and wants to leave, but Vladimir says they can't—they have to wait here for Godot. Estragon asks what they will do, and Vladimir says there's nothing they can do. (full context)
Waiting, Boredom, and Nihilism Theme Icon
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Estragon wants to leave, but Vladimir reminds him that they must stay and wait for Godot. Vladimir says Godot will come at nightfall. Estragon says after the night, it will be... (full context)
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Humanity, Companionship, Suffering, and Dignity Theme Icon
...are or how many of them there are. Vladimir excitedly says that it must be Godot. He shouts, "We're saved!" Vladimir pulls Estragon toward the edge of the stage, but Estragon... (full context)
Humor and the Absurd Theme Icon
Waiting, Boredom, and Nihilism Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
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Estragon asks if this is Godot. Vladimir says, "Reinforcements at last!" He says that now they will surely make it through... (full context)
Humor and the Absurd Theme Icon
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...are doing here, and then says that the answer is that they are waiting for Godot, or at least for nightfall. He says he and Estragon have kept their appointment. Pozzo... (full context)
Humor and the Absurd Theme Icon
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...wants to leave, but Vladimir reminds him yet again that they are waiting here for Godot. Estragon asks what they will do in the meantime, and Vladimir says they could help... (full context)
Humor and the Absurd Theme Icon
Waiting, Boredom, and Nihilism Theme Icon
Humanity, Companionship, Suffering, and Dignity Theme Icon
...asks Estragon what he is waiting for, and Estragon answers that he is waiting for Godot. Pozzo tells Estragon to pull on Lucky's rope to get his attention. If that doesn't... (full context)
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Humanity, Companionship, Suffering, and Dignity Theme Icon
...but then remembers they can't. He asks if Vladimir is sure that Pozzo wasn't actually Godot. Vladimir says he's certain, but then he says, "I don't know what to think any... (full context)
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Humanity, Companionship, Suffering, and Dignity Theme Icon
...and that he didn't come yesterday. Vladimir asks if the boy has a message from Godot, which the boy does: Godot will not come this evening, but he will come tomorrow.... (full context)
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Humanity, Companionship, Suffering, and Dignity Theme Icon
Vladimir asks the boy what Mr. Godot does. The boy says Godot does nothing. Vladimir asks whether Godot has a beard and... (full context)
Waiting, Boredom, and Nihilism Theme Icon
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...says they can't go far, because they have to come back tomorrow to wait for Godot. Estragon asks if Godot came and whether it's too late for him to come tonight.... (full context)
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...be better if he and Vladimir parted. Vladimir says they will hang themselves tomorrow, unless Godot arrives. (full context)