Waiting for Godot

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Estragon: Well, shall we go?
Vladimir: Yes, let's go.
(They do not move.)


A famously surreal "tragicomedy" by Samuel Beckett. Probably the best known example of the Theatre of the Absurd. The story concerns these two guys, Vladimir and Estragon (Didi and Gogo for short), who spend most of their time sitting by a lonely road, waiting for someone named Godot, who never comes. They have several brief but intense encounters with an Upper Class Twit named Pozzo and his servant, Lucky. In the course of the play, they wonder where Godot is, eat carrots, contemplate suicide, wonder where Godot is, discuss the Gospels, share dirty jokes, wonder where Godot is, exchange hats, and gradually succumb to existential angst and ennui.

It's wildly hilarious.

Inspired, among other things, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and (surprisingly) Bottom.

Tropes used in Waiting for Godot include:

  • Aerith and Bob: Estragon and Vladimir (the latter name is a bit exotic but real; the former sounds like high fantasy).
    • Estragon is the French name for Tarragon, a spice.
  • All There in the Manual: "Godot" comes from the Irish "Go Deo" (pronounced relatively similarly to the US and Canadian English pronunciation of "Godot") which means "forever". Samuel Beckett, as is often forgotten, was an Irishman.
    • However, "Go Deo" would be more accurately written in phonetic French as something more like Gojot, not Godot.
    • Alternatively: the name Godot is derived from a French slang for "shoe", godillot. The play is mainly concerned with duality, you see.
  • Black Comedy
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: At one point, the play calls for Estragon to try and escape from an unseen mob. Vladimir recommends he run in front of them (i.e. into the auditorium). Estragon refuses and Vladimir looks out into the auditorium and says "Well, I can understand that"
  • Driven to Suicide: Of course, it is only out of boredom that Didi and Gogo decide to try, though lack of rope prevents them.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "How's the carrot?" "It's a carrot."
  • The Gay Nineties: Briefly alluded to by Vladimir. Becomes a Funny Aneurysm Moment when "a million years ago, in the nineties" takes on a new meaning in the 21st Century.
    • Beckett later decided that mentioning any specific time was a mistake. The performing text of the play now reads "a million years ago, when the world was young".
  • The Ghost: Godot.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Vladimir and Estragon.
  • Ho Yay: Tons of it.
  • Hypocritical Humour: At one point in the second act, Vladimir tells Estragon that they should stop discussing things and just act. It takes him half a page of dialogue to say this.
  • Improv: Most performances include at least some, even if it's only physical comedy.
    • The 2009/2010 Berliner Ensemble performance had Didi and Gogo getting into discussions with the prompt. It was quite subdued and casual, and the actors were so in tune with each other it didn't seem at all disrespectful towards Beckett.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": For some reasons, most Americans still have it in their heads after all this time that it's pronounced "Go-DOT" instead of "GO-dot". And most Canadians, thanks to mandatory French lessons, think it's "Go-DOH".
    • It was originally in French.
    • Samuel Beckett, however, was Irish, and did a bit of play on words by spelling "Go Deo" ("forever") as it would be in French.
    • The correct UK- and Hiberno-English pronunciation of Godot is "GOD-oh". In spite of the fact that it is meant to be a French name, Beckett intended for the stress to be on the first syllable. Also, this makes the absent god allegory that much more explicit.
  • Man Child: Estragon, at times.
  • Mind Screw: Try to watch it (or reading it) and not come out confused.
  • Minimalist Cast: There are only four characters (and the messenger boy).
  • Mood Whiplash: A guy takes off his belt to hang himself - and his trousers fall down.
  • Motor Mouth: Lucky...when he bothers to talk.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The character's full names are (almost) never spoken in the text itself.
  • Only Sane Man: In the second act Vladimir begins to think he is this.
  • Overly Long Gag: Lucky's speech, the hat-swapping scene, and arguably the entire play.
  • Putting on My Thinking Cap: Lucky, obviously.
  • The Quiet One: Lucky...until you tell him to think.
  • Random Events Plot
  • Rashomon Style: Vladimir points out that the gospels contain an early example of this.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Who or what is Godot? Why are they waiting for him? Will he ever come?
  • Secondary Character Title
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Most of what Vladimir and Estragon discuss, as well as Lucky's "think".
  • Shout-Out: To The Bible, among others.
    • Pozzo makes a reference to Vladimir and Estragon being timid and standing in "fear and trembling", the name of a book by philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.
  • Spiritual Successor: Bottom, amazingly (particularly from their West End production of it.) It features Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson, who played (respectively) Rick and Vyvian in The Young Ones. Go figure!
  • Surreal Humour
  • Take That, Critics!: During their match of Volleying Insults, Estragon wins by calling Vladimir "a crrritic!"
    • Possibly the entire play. If you criticize it for lacking something (plot, character, meaning), well, it worked!
  • Those Two Guys: Occasionally joined by Those Two Other Guys.
  • Title Drop:

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

  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Vladimir and Estragon, at times. Pozzo and Lucky provide a darker take on the trope.
  • The Voiceless: Lucky, most of the time.
  • Volleying Insults: Vladimir and Estragon have a nice shouting match like this.
  • Upper Class Twit: Pozzo.
  • "What Now?" Ending: Godot never shows up, but Vladimir and Estragon can't bring themselves to leave.
  • Word of God: Beckett as said on several occasions that Godot does not represent God, so much so that he even regrets naming the character in such a way to cause people to make the assumption. In actual fact "Godot" can be taken to mean pretty much anything that you would wait for to the point that you fail do anything else but wait.
    • Beckett was also very clear that Pozzo was not Godot, although he understood where people were coming from when they thought that.
  • Word Salad Philosophy: Lucky again.
  • World Limited to the Plot

Godot Was Here.