The two most important sets of characters in the play occur in pairs. Does this emphasis on pairs create some significance for the boy, who appears alone? Vladimir and the boy discuss his brother; could this brother be the boy's pair? Perhaps the most important "character" in the play, Godot, is also a single character rather than a pair. Does this distinguish him from Vladimir and Estragon, Pozzo and Lucky? Does Beckett seem to prefer single characters or pairs?
How does the relationship between Vladimir and Estragon compare with the relationship between Pozzo and Lucky? What is the effect created by the contrast between these two pairs of characters? Is it significant that the characters appear in pairs, rather than alone?
Do you think the play warrants a religious reading? Can Godot be considered a Christ figure or simply a religious figure? If so, what is implied by his failure to appear? What about Estragon's attempts to equate himself with Christ? Consider also the many biblical allusions throughout the play, such as the mention of Cain and Abel and the discussion of the story of the two thieves.
Though it seems as if nothing happens in the play, actions actually play a very important role in Waiting for Godot. The stage directions of the play constitute nearly half of the text, suggesting that the actions, expressions, and emotions of the actors are as important as the dialogue. Examine the significance of the stage directions of one particular scene; for example, why is Estragon always struggling with his boot? What is the significance of Pozzo's vaporizer spray? What is the point of the scene in which Vladimir and Estragon exchange hats eight times?
Beckett called his play a "tragicomedy." Do you agree with this classification? If not, how would you classify the play? Do you think the play contains more elements of tragedy or comedy?
What is memory's role in the play? Why do so many of the characters' memories seem to be erased each day? Vladimir seems to be the only character who remembers things from one day to the next. What is the purpose of having one character remember what all of the others forget?
What is the overall tone of the play? Is the reader left with a feeling of resignation that Godot will never come, and Vladimir and Estragon will continue to wait in vain, or is there some hope created? Do the changes in Pozzo and Lucky between the first and second acts contribute to an overall feeling of hopelessness? What about the changes in the tree? The coming of spring often suggests hope for the future; is this the case here?
Act I, Section A-1
1. Estragon opens the play with the statement: “Nothing to be done.” What supports that statement in this section? What contradicts it?
2. What is the status of these men in society? How does Beckett convey this?
Act I, Section A-2
1. How does Beckett use language to define his characters and their relationship to each other?
2. Who does Godot seem to be at this point in the play? What could he possibly offer Estragon and Vladimir to improve their lives? Is there any suggestion that he might not appear?
Act I, Section A-3
1. Describe Pozzo and Lucky and their relationship to each other.
2. Compare the relationship between Vladimir and Estragon to the relationship between Pozzo and Lucky.
Act I, Section A-4
1. Does Pozzo’s character change during this section of the play? Does he seem to be the same character who entered at the beginning of Section A-3?
2. What evidence is there, in this section, that Pozzo and Lucky become part of a “play within a play?”
Act I, Section A-5
1. Estragon wants Lucky to dance; Vladimir wants him to think. How do their choices fit in with their general characters?
2. Lucky’s speech has been called gibberish or the “word-salad” of schizophrenics. What elements of it make sense?
Act I, Section A-6
1. How does...
(The entire section is 445 words.)