The Role of Godot in Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot"
by Svetlana Pershinova
In some works of literature, a character who appears briefly, or does not appear at all, is a significant presence. An example of this can be found in the play Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett.
The play deals with a hope for a change and a chance to be saved of two old frineds. One of the character is Godot, someone who never shows up. The reader finds out about him only through the conversations in the play. Although Godot is never physically present on stage, his presence is everywhere. The whole play, including all the actions and the theme itself, is affected by the mention of Godot.
No one in the play ever really saw him, or ever will. His appearance is not as important as a belief in him. The two friends, Estragon and Vladimir spend their lives waiting for this one person to show up, this one miracle to happen. It never does, but as Vladimir says, "It passes the time." It might appear surprising that the lives of two people can be based on the life of a third one, whom they never actually met. But in reality, they do not need him as a person. All they need is something to believe in, something to wait for.
Most people spend their lives witing for something, but they are not sure of what exactly. Vladimir and Estragon can consider themselves lucky. They know specifically what, or rather whom, they are waiting for : Godot. This faceless character affects their lives. He is a reason they are still alive. Every day, Estragon wants to kill himelf, but not only is there not enough rope, but there is also a hope that maybe, just maybe, Godot will appear the next day and everything will be different. Interestingly enough, Godot is also the one who keeps two friends coming back to the same spot, instead of wandering off and looking for a better place to live. Because of the endless promise that this one person will actually come, they do not leave the place.
Whether or not Godot exists does not make any difference. The belief in him keeps two people from killing themselves, yet living in a ditch. It keeps them away from the places where they want to go and at the same time, it keeps them together. This belief serves the most important function: it gives prupose to their lives.
Estragon and Vladimir are homeless, old and weary, and maybe they are right in thinking that they'd be better off being dead. Certainly Godot can be looked at as death itself, and that's what the two friends are waiting for. Still, death is considered to be a change and that's what Vladimir and Estragon want. And Godot, no matter what/who he is, is the one who can give them this change that they so desparately need.