Waiting for Godot Summary

The play “Waiting for Godot” by Beckett deliberately lacks sense, leaving to the audience the right to take the events of it literally or metaphorically and guess by themselves who is the mysterious Godot, a universal trouble-solver: God, magician or just a random authority figure. The insane logic of the events makes “Alice in Wonderland” looks like strict science fiction, but the proper way to deal with that play is not with the help of logic, but emotions and perception.

The play starts from the scene of two men - Estragon and Vladimir - sitting on the hill. Estragon is trying to put on his shoe but doesn’t succeed. Vladimir says that he is glad Estragon returned: he really thought that his friend disappeared forever. Estragon is glad himself, he had a bad night and even was beaten by someone he doesn’t know. Vladimir adds that it is difficult to endure this alone, that’s what friends are needed for.

But their dialog soon turns to be much more pessimistic. They discuss their lost possibility to commit suicide by jumping off the Eiffel tower when it has just been built, in the nineties. Then they could be the first at least at something - the first people who died that way. But now they can’t do even this. They are not allowed to go up.

Vladimir takes off his hat, shakes it but nothing falls out of it. Vladimir sadly notes that and turns to Estragon with a piece of advice: apparently the issue isn’t with the shoe, but with Estragon’s leg. He also quotes Holy Bible just in case, reminding his friend that even one of the bandits executed with Christ was granted forgiveness and offers Estragon to confess his sins - maybe it will help with the shoe? Vladimir continues his philosophical monolog, wondering why of four evangelists only one spoke about the bandit’s salvation.

Estragon, tired of his fruitless efforts, proposes them both to leave and go elsewhere, but Vladimir refuses, believing that they should wait for Godot right here. They can’t leave, even if he won’t come today, they should stay at that exact place just not to miss him tomorrow. Godot promised to come on Saturday, but Estragon and Vladimir were waiting for Godot for so long they no longer remember what day of week it is now. 

Estragon tries to take a nap, but Vladimir immediately becomes bored and lonely and wakes his friend up. Estragon just plainly offers them both to hang themselves to end the endless waiting, but they can’t decide who shall die first, so they both agree that the safest way is to do anything and wait for Godot to find out his opinion. They don’t remember what they asked Godot for the last time, it seemed to be just a general prayer, but they do remember the Godot’s reply. He needs some time to talk to his family, look for the similar cases in literature, check his bank accounts and then return with a decision.

Suddenly they hear a scream nearby. Vladimir and Estragon freeze, terrified out of their minds. Lucky enters the stage, holding a suitcase, a folding chair, a basket with food and a warm coat. In addition he has a rope around his neck, the other end of which is in the hand of his owner, Pozzo. Pozzo whips him and shouts at him, demanding to go faster. Estragon cautiously asks Pozzo if he is Godot they are wait for. But, unfortunately, Pozzo doesn’t even know who Godot is. He is just a lone traveller and is glad to see some new people to talk to, because people, created by God, are always a blessing and he can’t stand loneliness for a long time.

Pozzo orders Lucky to unfold a chair and sits down near the two friends. Lucky puts Pozzo’s possessions to the ground and do what was demanded. But Pozzo isn’t happy: the chair should have been put closer to him. Lucky, who has already taken all the luggage, puts it back again and moves the chair. Vladimir and Estragon are puzzled: why doesn’t Lucky just permanently put things on the ground?

Pozzo takes the fried chicken from the basket and eats it, throwing the bones away. Estragon asks if he could take the bones, but Pozzo, lighting a pipe, replies that the bones are for his slave. If Lucky would be so kind to grant them, Estragon can take the bones. Since Lucky is silent, Estragon picks the bones up from the ground and starts to eat what meat is left on them.

Vladimir is disgusted by Pozzo’s cruelty: is it ever possible to treat a person like that in the modern age? But Pozzo just ignores Vladimir’s anger, smoking his pipe. Vladimir and Estragon want to leave again but this time Pozzo asks them to stay and offers them to wait for Godot together.

Estragon is curious also: why Lucky still holds the baggage? After he repeats the question several times, Pozzo finally answers that Lucky has the right to put it to the ground or to hold it and if he holds it than he wants the things to be that way. Probably he tries to flatter Pozzo and prove his usefulness, so that Pozzo won’t drive him away. Pozzo continues that Lucky is a miserable worker, so he decided to get rid of him, but, in his kindness, instead of just disposing of his slave he takes him to the market to sell to another owner. Pozzo also says that maybe the best way to deal with Lucky is to simply kill him. Hearing that Lucky starts to cry, Estragon feels sorry for him and tries to comfort him, but Lucky kicks him and suddenly stops crying.

Pozzo laughs and points out that Estragon started crying exactly the same moment Lucky stopped, so the amount of tears in the world remains constant. This is one of the thing Lucky taught him for sixty years they are together. Pozzo orders Lucky to take off his hat. It appears that under the hat Lucky has long grey hair. When Pozzo takes off his own hat it turns out that he is completely bold. Suddenly Pozzo snaps and starts sobbing, saying that he can’t stand it anymore and can’t be with Lucky. Vladimir, who just recently berated Pozzo for being cruel now turns on Lucky, angrily lecturing him for torturing such a kindhearted master.

As suddenly as he started crying Pozzo calms down and says the friends to forget everything he told them. He draws their attention to the beauty of twilight, praising it in a long emotional speech. But Estragon and Vladimir are getting bored. To entertain them, Pozzo offers to order Lucky to dance, sing, read poetry or think. Estragon wants Lucky to dance and then think.

Lucky performs a short dance and then thinks aloud, giving them a long absurd lecture pretending to be scientific, but it is devoid of any meaning. After that Pozzo and Lucky finally leave.

Estragon wants to follow them but Vladimir yet again reminds him that they are waiting for Godot. A messenger boy comes and says that Godot asked to tell them that he won’t come today, but will come tomorrow. The night is coming. Estragon decides to abandon shoes he has so many troubles with and leave them for anyone who needs them - he himself is going to walk barefoot like Christ from now on.

Estragon tries to remember for how long he knows Vladimir. Vladimir believes that they are friends for fifty years, but asks Estragon to let bygones be bygones and concentrate on the present time. They think whether they shall leave and return tomorrow, discuss it a bit and say that they should to each other - but stay where they are.

The next act starts in the same place in the same time, but next day. Estragon’s shoes are standing amidst of the stage. Vladimir stands near looking at them. Soon barefoot Estragon appears. Vladimir is glad to see him and wants to embrace his friend. At first Estragon objects but then softens and embraces Vladimir in return. Estragon says he was beaten again and Vladimir pities him. They have troubles on their own but they are truly happy when they are together. Estragon asks what shall they do today and Vladimir replies that they must wait for Godot, as always.

Estragon doesn’t remember yesterday, neither Pozzo nor Lucky. The friends decide to have a small talk because they just can’t keep silent. Chatter is the most suitable activity because the silence urges them to either talk or listen. They pretend to hear some voices from above and discuss these voices for a while. Then, after they are out of chat topics they decide to start all over again. But to start again they have to choose which topic shall be the first and, as we already know, making decisions is quite a challenge for both of them.

Estragon is sure that they were in some other place yesterday and the shoes that stand nearby are not his: they are of different shape and color. Vladimir suggests that someone could take Estragon’s shoes and leave his instead. Estragon says that his shoes were old and stinky, so he doesn’t understand why on Earth someone could take them. Vladimir thoughtfully corrects the friend that someone could have much older shoes and it was actually an improvement for him. Estragon tries to understand the words of his friend but fails. He asks if they can leave now but Vladimir says that they still must wait for Godot.

Suddenly Vladimir notices that Lucky forgot his hat. He and Estragon take their own hats off and try on each of the three they have. They decide to pretend they are Pozzo and Lucky but suddenly Estragon notices someone is coming. They hope it is finally Godot, but then they hear another person’s footsteps from the other side. The friends are afraid they are cornered and freak out trying to hide, but no one comes.
Estragon and Vladimir start to quarrel just because of boredom, but reconcile later. Pozzo and Lucky enter the stage. Now Pozzo is blind. Lucky carries the same luggage, but now his rope is much shorter so he may guide his master. Suddenly Lucky falls, taking Pozzo with him. Lucky is exhausted and falls asleep immediately. Pozzo tries to go away but can’t.

Vladimir and Estragon realise that now Pozzo is dependant on their mercy and decide what shall they do with him. Pozzo asks them for help promising to pay them a big amount of money. Vladimir agrees, tries to raise him but falls himself. Estragon tries, in his turn, is ready to help Vladimir, but demands them both to go away and never return after that. He tries to lift Vladimir but is too clumsy to do so and falls also.

Pozzo is crawling away. Estragon forgets his name and tries to shout random names until some of them fits. He calls Pozzo Abel, Pozzo asks for help in response. Estragon also tries to name Lucky Cain but it is again Pozzo who answers. Estragon is puzzled because he thinks one man has several names. He wants to leave again, but Vladimir reminds him of Godot. After thinking a bit they finally help Pozzo to get up. Pozzo can’t stand on his feet and they have to support him.

They look at the sunset, arguing if this is sunset or sunrise. Pozzo asks them to wake Lucky up and Estragon starts to beat him. Lucky stands up and collects the luggage. Pozzo and Lucky are going to wander away again. Vladimir wonders what is in the suitcase and where will they go. Pozzo replies that the suitcase is filled with sand. Vladimir asks Lucky to sing before leaving but Pozzo suddenly claims that Lucky is too dumb to do it. Vladimir is puzzled: yesterday Lucky was perfectly capable of performing. He asks Pozzo for how long Lucky is dumb and Pozzo instantly gets irritated with the question. He angrily says that time doesn’t matter and everything shall happen when it is destined to happen. Finally, Pozzo and Lucky leave

A rumble is heard from behind the stage and both of the friends fall again. Estragon passes out, but Vladimir gets bored again and wakes him up. Vladimir is puzzled. He isn’t able to distinguish dream from reality anymore. Maybe they are both sleeping? Did they wake up yesterday or just continue sleeping?

The messenger boy comes again. Vladimir wonders if he is the same boy that came yesterday, but the boy says he came for the first time. Godot asked him to say that he won’t come today but will come tomorrow. Estragon and Vladimir decide to hang themselves out of despair but they don’t have a rope strong enough for them both. They decide to leave for a night and gather again to wait for Godot tomorrow. They say that they should go to each other, but again they stay where they are.