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Prof. Abdul-Settar Abdul-Latif Abdul-Zahra



The Study deals with two sorts of Vassalage bond supposed to be in Waiting for Godot : One is visible in the nucleus -'plot' of Pozzo, the master and Lucky, the slave, the other invisible, mute and unstaged underlaying peripheral 'plot' of Vadimir and Estragon as two undeclared slaves in relation to Godot . The study is to plumb deep amid layers of illusion that should be pruned off altogether in order to sort out the two vassalages apart. The study proposes a supposition that the process initiated to ruminate the visible will be conducive to trace the invisible through juxtaposing certain staged aspects (three in number) in the former to their hypothetically unstaged counterparts in the latter. As such the study could reveal yet other three hidden knots or conducivenesses' detected only in this way of reading the unseen of the peripheral 'plot' ; such conducivenesses of the invisible vassalage would spot light on the two faces of the coin: Godot's hegemony in relation to Vladimir and Estragon as well as their ultimate servitude . The conducivenesses dealt with are : 1) the prevalence of horror and atrocities precipitated by Godot the master while the slaves are waiting for him a gamut of years in the 'Cacon' Country, 2) the ostensible susceptibility to servitude Vladimir and Estragon show accordingly and 3) the coercive riddance of their human rights in favour of the sole master

Department of English, College of Education, University of Basrah 


In almost all his works, Beckett's characters do suffer a lot. Suffering is inevitable and accepted as "the ignominious situation"1 and "inescapable truth"2. They are shown damned and tantalized, paralyzed and immersed into inaction and misery and "plunged into total darkness", they are condemned to wade in a certain sort of "an inferno"3. Vassalage, in terms of the sufferer, is a self-inferno and an ignominious agony. It infiltrates into the mundus of Waiting for Godot, through the master -slave relationship as embodied by Pozzo (the master) and Lucky (the slave).Though Lucky's vassalage to Pozzo as a bond is very important to understanding the play, it has not been watered down despite the multifarious spots of light shed on by a lot of critics, reviewers and writers. Still, it seems, it needs to be excavated a little bit deeper .Concerning Pozzo's cruelty and oppression and Lucky's humility, sufferings and burdens, there is an agreement among critics . They, to quote some, conclude that "Pozzo bullies Lucky"4, that "the indulgence in brutal cruelty has become the only motive power of Pozzo's existence"5, that "Lucky shows menial services"6, that their relationship is"sado-masochistic"7 and that they are "complementary natures"8. But this is a general view that dose not explicate the nature of the vassalage relationship, its implications, impacts nor effects on other characters, namely, Vladimir, Estragon and Godot. One the other hand, it is noticed that some critics reduce Vladimir-Estragon relationship down to a master-slave level and they juxtapose such an undeniable relationship between the two .that ugly bondage splicing together Pozzo ( the master) and Lucky (the slave): Konstantine Kolenda, for instance, in his Philosophy in Literature, considers Estragon Vladimir's weak, "dependent....friend who cannot exist without protection ;Vladimir realizes that his very self depends on this ability to provide protection .... Vladimir is certainly a stronger character"9.Such an interpretation and juxtaposition can be denied easily. For what is amazing about such a kind of postulated vassalage is that Vladimir does not behave himself as a master with Estragon as Pozzo does with Lucky. Nor does he exploit or obliterate Estragon's personality in the same way Pozzo does with Lucky's. Against, Vladimir, as Kolenda later writes, "shows towards [Estragon] a remarkable respect [and] tolerance". Moreover, Vladimir as a master, adds Kolenda, has got a humanitarian task to do — "he has Estragon to care for and stand with him through this wearing and inconclusive awaiting"10. Also, this consideration of the putative master-slave relationship (between Vladimir and Estragon) can be thought over. First, the play reveals Estragon's ambition, not Vladimir's, to be a master— in a step to emulate Pozzo. Act II shows that Estragon in the master-slave game (p. 73) incarnates the role of Pozzo, the master. Secondly, Vladimir, quite contrary to Kolenda's view on his (i.e., Vladimir's) humanitarian task, will, in the same act, wile to liquidate Estragon — he deliberately strives for embroiling Estragon with Godot. And Godot will castigate, if he figures out, Estragon in any subsequent encounter, off-stage in an invisible act! But the way of knowing this ore of the story needs to be tackled elsewhere out of the scope of this study. Thirdly, Vladimir and Estragon have, each, the same lot of drudgery and toil because of their shared tedious and incessant waiting every night for Godot. They are obliged to remain in an indefinite locale, near a tree, and are not admitted to depart unless they hear from, or are ordered by, Godot who is accustomed to dispatch his boy messenger each time he procrastinates. So, to round off, Vladimir and Estragon are two vassals working for or at the service of one master. And this is the crux of the matter and the germ of the study. This Vassalage, though unstaged, is felt and it could be brought into light through the master-slave relationship between Pozzo and Lucky which is very conspicuous, visible and staged. Its conspicuity and staging help to excavate still another kind of slavery which is invisible and has nothing to do with clarity. Therefore, understanding Pozzo-Lucky bond which constitutes the nucleus- plot' and which has accordingly "a deciphering function'11, as Gunther Anders concludes without explaining which is which, is conducive to understanding Vladimir's and Estragon's relation to Godot that forms the peripheral one, i.e., it is assumed that our knowledge of the first is conducive to the revelation of the second since both the 'plots' are on one part juxtaposed, on the other, function within one circular (or spiral) structure.

The study would exteriorize what is intentionally interiorized - would dig deep into Lucky's staged slavery to Pozzo because it will guide us to explore similar terms of a similar equation whereby the role of the master is reserved for the unseen Godot while the role of the slave is doubled or split into two characters -Vladimir and Estragon. The study would focus on how the staged vassalage would help to pop up three unstaged conducivenesses the close perusal of the play is to detect in the 'lives' of Godot's two vassals. These conducivenesses are three points related to 1) Vladimir's and Estragon's unstaged horrors and atrocities known to them in the ' Cacon 'country and triggered by Godot, 2) the vassalage susceptibility they show accordingly and 3) the ultimate renunciation of their human "rights" to their unmatched master. These three invisible conducivenesses that lurk in the peripheral 'plot' will be revealed through a simultaneous point-to-point process of juxtaposing yet three other aspects pertinent in nature and having the same blood into their veins but different in their visibility, in the nucleus -'plot' ; and in their availability at large , in almost all dramatic 'conventions'. The process is to be put into action immediately after having ostracized certain layers of illusion the characters 'mundi' are replete with, first.

Vladimir's and Estragon's (in)actions as well as horrors are obscured because they are hooded into layers of clownishness that are used as a smokescreen - an overall illusion besetting almost all dramatic 'conventions' and figuring out, in particular, through language. It is the manipulation of these layers (of' illusory lucidity), among other devices, that are after a certain orientation in Beckettian criticism of the play which has been reputed as "indeterminate" and the indeterminacy of what is going" 13 is its commonplace landmark. Moreover, the play, to some critics of credit like Alec Reid, represents drama of the non-specific". 14Yet there is an arrier-pensee behind the abundance of ludicrous illusion here. In addition, it is part of this sweeping illusion not only to consider Vladimir and Estragon two absurdists who are in charge of their (non-)deeds but also to impress audiences and readers a great deal - to make us 'unsee' or 'unfeel' something synchronously occurring, i.e., we are shun and blocked not to grope for yet another invisible phenomenon that dominates Vladimir's and Estragon's cosmos. It is some sort of horrible horror that inflicts their lives, precipitated by Godot's hegemony and oppression reminiscent of and juxtaposed with Pozzo's power and cruelty. It is the kind of horror that blinds, that dumbs, and that gags! Amazingly enough, this blood-curdling horror which is La fatal force, squeezing and vicing Vladimir and Estragon together, has been castrated and dethroned - alleviated and attenuated or say bridled to the extent that it is never felt or sensed; this is due to Beckett's different alienation techniques and these layers of illusion in question are included. They block (on the part of the audiences) the feel of the horrors of the characters. Both Vladimir and Estragon respond to Godot servilely as Lucky to his master Pozzo. Yet none of writers, reviewers or critics of the play ponder over their serfdom nor render them mean and swinish; none of those critics describe Vladimir and Estragon as lower than "old dogs" 16 as Pozzo has done when he degraded his slave, to such a level. That their slavery is passed unseen, and the horror unnoticed is because of the. manipulation of layers of illusion that not only extend to the language but also to the structure - as far as language is concerned Niklaus Gessner has listed different modes of disintegration of language to be found in the play. They include "several Irishisms, misunderstandings, double-entendre, monologues, clichιs, repetition, inability to find the right word, and telegraphic style"17. As for structure these layers of illusion incorporate a lot of scenes of buffoonery and risibility, absurdity and laughter, games and jokes, dances and songs, refrains and scattered fragments of destructive plots and incomplete sentences. The play is, in fact, brimful of examples. Every now and then these scenes are curdled on the surface just for one purpose - to screen off, obscure and camouflage what boils deep unsee - the unstaged terror that is rife in Vladimir's and Estragon's mundus and it is engendered and triggered by no one but the invisible boggle who prevails in the dark of the peripheral 'plot' while in the nucleus - 'plot' the staged vassalage {of Lucky to Pozzo} develops furrows of fear and trepidation (on the part of the slave). It, on the reader and audience, grooves hearts with contrasted feelings of disgust and pity - disgust to Pozzo and pity for Lucky.

As a tool to provoke dread in Lucky, Pozzo takes up to this style of solving matters through the use of a whip - "a knook" (p. 33) as he calls it after a deformed transliteration, for the English 'whip', of a Russian word sounding like 'knout'18 whenever he finds the whip or to use the Russian equivalent - 'the knook' helpful and necessary to deal with Lucky. Here, Beckett throws an innuendo - and this is the first one, to the then Soviet style of taking up to the rod in dealing with matters at a certain period in its history. While Beckett insinuates a second innuendo to the USSR when he makes Didi and Gogo talk about the Macon Country, his third sarcastic allusion renders the Free World as the Cacon Country. These two points will be tackled below later on.

Pozzo cracks "his whip in air" (p. 3 7). He sometimes "places the butt of his whip against Lucky's chest and pushes" (p. 24). Lucky is ready to offer him the whip when Pozzo could not see it (p.89). And Lucky fears Pozzo and obeys submissively. His fear does not figure out. For it is congealed in the nerves and frozen in blood. The feelings of fear are silenced. He, not without meaning, looks in the eye thrice (pp.30, 39, 42) at Pozzo before his long 'speech' gushes out (pp.42-5) in Act I. In addition to the whip, Pozzo has got a rope round Lucky's neck that chafes the spot very badly. He drags Lucky by pulling on "the rope as hard as he likes so long as he does not strangle him" (p. 87. If Lucky due to fatigue does not respond, Pozzo is "ready to kick him in the face or the privates" (p. 87) with his boot. Also, Lucky offers the other end of the rope to Pozzo (p. 89) who uses as a non-verbal order – he jerks the rope twelve times to attract Lucky's attention for doing something. When it tautens, it makes Lucky fall down with all his baggage: heavy bag, a folding stool, a picnic basket. Lucky also carries Pozzo's pipe, food, and pulvizer. Whenever the master is in need for one article of the list, Lucky is to put all his baggage down, advance, give the master what he asks, go back to his place and put up once more the baggage. He is ready to do this job more than nine times in merely a few minutes of their meeting with Vladimir and Estragon every night. These very burdens of self-degradation and self- nullification themselves, as it is of course assumed in the play, turn tantamount to identity acquisition and resuscitation (see I. p.45) on the part of Lucky "the distraught slave; when Lucky faints in Act I, Pozzo takes the measure immediately, he resorts to these burdens as though they are Lucky's cordial:

He puts me bag in Lucky's hand. Lucky drops it immediately. Pozzo puts back the bag in Lucky's hand. Gradually, at the feel of the hag LUCKY RECOVERS HIS SENSES AND HIS FINGERS CLOSE ROUND THE HANDLE.

(my Capitalization) (I .p. 45)


Moreover, Lucky dances. Lucky sings. He recites and thinks aloud. He goes back, comes forwards, stops, turns, comes closer, takes the whip in his mouth, and opens the stool, help Pozzo put on/off his coat.... He implements all orders that mount to sixty in number. He tolerates all abuses and slender like "Up hog"," Up pig", "Up scum" etc. There is no time for him to rest except the time when Pozzo is eating. He sleeps on his feet. He always "sags slowly until his bag and basket touch the ground then he straightens up with a start and begins to sag again" (p.25) with the luggage. Still Lucky utters no word of objection whatsoever. He neither remonstrates nor cavils. This is because of variegated feelings of consternation and awe he has for Pozzo. These feelings are juxtaposed with yet similar though invisible feelings owned by Vladimir and Estragon as vassals to Godot. Lucky's vassalage is helpful to understand the bond enchaining them to Godot. But here the analysis faces a problem - their invisible vassalage could not be grasped unless Vassalage of another sort lying on a deeper layer of illusion should be explored. This new one extends to the structure and language of the play. While in structure, the fragmentation of a 'plot' is manipulated by the dramatist and the reader's talent can re-assemble these fragments together; in language, the task becomes harder because there are such devices as incomplete sentences, ellipsis (of verbs), ambiguity of style, repartee (in dialogue) and parallelism (in syntax) used. They in terms of language reflect the loss through which Vladimir and Estragon live and feel. For example, Vladimir gives a lead to those depths of the invisible. What he says, though scattered and fragmented, is helpful to the reader to trace back and gather the bitter years of the two vassals' story – as Vladimir recalls some horrible recollections of a horror land:

Vladimir: But down there every thing is RED

(My Capitalization) (II. p. 62)


Vladimir: All the same, you can't tell me THAT THIS (GESTURE) bears any resemblance to ... (he hesitates)... to the Macon Country, for example. You can't deny there's a big difference.

Estragon: The Macon country. Who's talking to you about the Macon country? 

Vladimir: But we were there together, 1 could swear to it. Picking grapes for a man called ... (he snaps his (fingers) ... can't think of the man, at a place called ... (snaps his fingers)....


(My Capitalization) (II.pp.61-2)


"Down here" is the 'Macon' Country (p. 61) where Estragon and he had been serving a man (and they now are living in a new place at which Vladimir gestures):


Estragon pretends at the outset that he does not remember or, perhaps, he really prefers not to open the terrific Pandora's Box of his memory. He does not want to declare anything:

Estragon: exasperated I didn't notice anything, I tell you.


He does not want to allow himself to recall anything past. He fears his own memories to be utilized as self-confessions incurring even his death as his life was by this way once threatened in the Macon Country though he no longer lives there. For he escapes with Vladimir through the Rhone:


Estragon: Do you remember the day I threw myself into the Rhone?

Vladimir: We were grape - harvesting.

Estragon: You fished me out here

(I. P.53)

They are here in a new locale, which Estragon ironically dubs as the 'Cacon' Country (p.62).Yet his attempts not to remember have failed. His memories have still been implanted in the past in the place of his nativity. He, then, throws himself into me same gush of horrors of those bitter years:

Estragon: In the meantime let us try and converse calmly,

.. since we are incapable of keeping silent.



Estragon: The best thing would be to kill me, like the other

Vladimir: What other? (Pause) What other?

Estragon: like billions of others.

Vladimir: To every man his little cross. (He sighs.) Till he dies.  ….. ….. …. ………….(Afterthought).And is forgotten.

(II. P.62)



Still, they debunk only fragments of their past, generally adumbrating kinds of atrocities of the like of en mass purges (genocide?) committed against "others" unknown:

Thus, they keep on describing the situation. They say there in the Macon Country - nobody was allowed to believe his own. Vladimir and Estragon recall how innocent people there were appalled lest they might submit themselves to listen to anybody other than creeds of Big Brothers who were liable to mop up "billions" of people for suspects to have different minds. Vladimir and Estragon wonder what could have happened if one had gone further than that, to draw together followers. Vladimir and Estragon tell us about those who were "dead" or exterminated for no reason but not 'abiding' by the rules of the 'Macon' Country since "They" got" voices" (p.62)! But they achieved nothing. The reason behind the failure of those people who were driven to death lies in the fact that their "voices" were not of one mind, as Vladimir and Estragon criticize:

Estragon:All the dead [have] voices.

Vladimir: They all speak together.

Estragon: Each one to itself.


( II. pp.62-3)                                         


And "they" were soon lost to view. They were dematerialized - turned to "sand" (p.62) and their souls flow "like leaves'' (p.62) amidst wind. Yet such people, Vladimir and Estragon keep telling us, in the 'Macon' Country did not fear to die; it was "not sufficient" for" them" either to live or die, as Vladimir and Estragon narrate. "'They" had certain ends to achieve. And their sacrifices would only serve the work out of vassalage.

Estragon: They have to talk about it.

Vladimir: To be dead is not enough for them.

Estragon: It is not sufficient.


(II. p.63)


"They" preferred death. Their death took different images: torture, cremation, or tossing into air (out of flying planes?).

Vladimir: They make a noise like WINGS.

Estragon: Like leaves

Vladimir: Like sand

Estragon: Like leaves.


Vladimir: They make a noise like FEATHERS

Estragon: Like leaves

Vladimir: Like ASHES

Estragon: Like leaves. 

My Capitalization) (II. pp. 62-3)


Yet in the 'Macon' Country, Vladimir and Estragon tell us so, there had been another category of people who had resorted to "reason" - a mental "excuse" or a pretext not to die, as is the case with Vladimir and Estragon themselves; they belong to those escapists:

Estragon: It's so we won't think.

Vladimir: We have that excuse.

Estragon: It's so we won't hear. 

Vladimir: We have our reasons.


(II. p. 62)

Vladimir and Estragon took flight thinking of resuming the "struggle" (p. 9) elsewhere.

In their new stash (the Cacon Country), they worked once more achieving relatively interim triumphs:

Vladimir: Hand in hand from the top of the Eiffel Tower,  among the first. We were presentable in those days. Now it's too late. They wouldn't even let . us up.



Their setbacks were recurrent and their work of no use. They came to conclusion that "nothing can be done" (pp.9, 11, etc.) to change the whole situation. Defeat is inevitable. Yet they kept on struggling and fighting:

Vladimir: (Advancing with short, stiff strides, legs wide apart) I am beginning to come round to that opinion. All my life I've tried to put it from me, saying, Vladimir, bereasonable, YOU HAVEN'T YET TRIED  EVERYTHING. AND I RESUMED THE STRUGGLE.

(My Capitalization) (I. p.9)

Vladimir's prior ways of thinking and administrating the conflict with the ineffable, as he criticizes himself, were wrong. He thought that by relying merely on himself (as the intellectual among the two) was the sole route to victory:

Vladimir: (Gloomily ) it's too much for one MAN.


(My Capitalization) (I. p.10)


while their ineffable enemies outside the Macon Country were still many. The enemies are referred to in the play with the pronoun "they" (pp.9, 58) or "the same lot" (I. p. 9) or "ten of them" (I. p.59). Those enemies beat Estragon rather than Vladimir. Vladimir saved him at time of crises here - in their new refuge:

Vladimir: When I think of it ... all these years ... but for me where would you be (decisively ) you'd be nothing .. more than a little heap of bone at the present ..  …. minute, no doubt about it

(I. p.9)


Hence, Vladimir is by no means "feminine" as B. S. Fletcher comment in their Student's Guide to the Plays of Samuel Beckett 19.


So far we are disillusioned by the illusion shrouding the vassalage of Vladimir and Estragon in the Macon Country whose invisible feelings of consternation and awe have not been illuminated. Yet before this point is tackled, let us think over of the reference to such fictional regions as the 'Macon' and 'Cacon' Countries because the two points - the invisible feelings of terror and the mention of the countries - are interrelated.

'Macon' is a Middle English form etymologically derived from two sources; the first one is a variation among more than 50 others of the name of the Prophet Mohammad20whom the European Crusaders in Medieval Ages considered as the 'infidel' or 'the devil'. The second was derived from an Italian word for 'machine'21. To Beckett, 'Macon' in Waiting carries the nuances of the two etymological sources. 'Macon' alludes to the USSR since for the 'Christian' West the 'Soviets' at a time were the most abhorred materialist Infidels of Europe who dominated the Eastern part of the Continent where 'horror and disbelief' spring from a "decayed Unreal "City ... over the mountains", to quote Eliot, the poet of The Waste Land (1922) who, "being hypocrite .. .mon semblable, avoids mentioning, among a list of other unreal cities as he enumerates Jerusalem Athens Alexandaria / Vienna, London', the name of the City which 'is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality'. The name of the decayed Unreal City that is meant is Moscow. In his essay Thoughts After Lambeth (1931), Eliot concludes that ' the experiment (i.e., the October Revolution) will fail' "22. So, as Eliot many years ago indirectly disparaged in his poem this experiment, Beckett in W F G throws at the same experiment some vitriolic remarks, and, the study has so far shown only two – the first is "the knook", the second " the Macon Country". Still there are other ones and to spot light on them lies out of the scope of this study the aim of which is not to set a political reading of the play since such a reading dictates a certain approach to deal with the text. Martin Esslin, as setting the historical background for the Absurd movement in drama, though he does not recommend a political interpretation23of any sort of the play, writes that "there is no doubt that a sense of disillusionment with the hopes of radical social revolution as predicted by Marx after Stalin had turned the Soviet Union into a totalitarian tyranny ... is but one characteristic feature of our own times ..[and] of the plays that we have classed under the label of me Theatre of the Absurd"24. And I Beckett may have been aware of this feature

The 'Cacon' Country alludes to the disgusting and contemptuous image of the West itself after relapse into barbarism, mass murder and genocide ... during the Second World War and in the aftermath of that War" and the spread, among sensitive minds, of such a belief that their Western World "of the mid twentieth century has lost its meaning and has simply ceased to make sense"25. The West, hence, becomes represented in the play as the 'Cacon' Country. The word 'Cacon' is "a pun on the French child's word for excrement 'cach'"26. While in the 'Macon' Country Big Brothers, as Vladimir and Estragon narrated, controlled the whole scene with firm grips and iron heels; in the 'Cacon', Vladimir and Estragon would see a similar image of despotism - a multi-master world; Vladimir and Estragon would meet masters like those hostile "others", the invisible "Godot" and the cruel Pozzo. Vladimir and Estragon who were two dissidents or ' non - conformists', fled from one bloody vassalage to another more horrible in the new stash - the Free World itself! And both the phases of their vassalage (paradoxically contradicted with each other and intermingled with horror and death) are invisible to the external observer!

As such, Beckett's Waiting comes to mockingly vituperate, in one stroke, both the Free World and the Eastern Block; the play, in this case, neither pays lip service to the West nor regards it animated and dynamic and free of horrors as Gunther Andres wishfully thought, when he wrote in a 1954 article "Being Without Time: On Beckett's Play Waiting for Godot", under, of course, the obsessions of the Cold War between the then two big powers, that Pozzo and Lucky are:

the motor of time: for time is history; and history in the eyes of dialectical philosophy, owes its movement exclusively to antagonism (between man and manor class and class); so exclusively that at the moment when these antagonisms came to an end, history itself would cease, too


Gunther Andres considered Pozzo and Lucky as

the Hegelian symbol of history steps onto the stage .... on which, so far, nothing had reigned but 'being without time'.... It is quite understandable that the entrance of this new pair intrigues the spectator. First for aesthetic reason: the stagnation which, at the beginning, he had rejected as hardly acceptable, but finally accepted as the 'law of the Godot world', is suddenly disturbed by the intrusion of characters that are undeniably active. It is as though before our very eyes a still photo turned into a movie"27.


But 'the law of the Godot world' under the hold of which Vladimir and Estragon came after their flight from the 'Macon' Country, is only one, among other corpuses juris that govern all regions of the Free World! They in their new habitat witnessed once again ages of incessant anxiety and blood-cuddling awe and exhaustive illusion. They were deceived by the recurrent message that "Godot will not come today but surely he will come tomorrow". It is due to this deception that whenever they saw a new comer, they were moved and put to alert thinking their 'saviour-bogle' has arrived: their passions, startled, would come to spontaneous ascendancy (in two examples, one in Act I, the other in Act II), just before the arrival of one of the cast - Pozzo:

( A terrible cry , close at hand , Estragon drops the carrot. They

remain motionless, then together make a sudden rush towards the

wings. Estragon stops half-way, runs back, picks up the carrot,

stuffs it in his pocket , runs towards Vladimir who is waiting for

him, stops again , runs back, picks up his boot, runs to rejoin

Vladimir. Huddled together, shoulders haunched, cringing away

from the menace, they wait)

Estragon : (undertone) Is that him?

Vladimir: Who?

Estragon : (trying to remember the name). Er ....

Vladimir : Godot?

Estragon : Yes

Pozzo : I present myself: Pozzo

Vladimir : (to Estragon ) . Not at all




They are each lime disappointed. Their passions ebb and flow accordingly in a circular move analogous to the circular structure. Yet they could not depart not because of hope as it is thought: "They do not give up waiting, even though they get no more than ambiguous and suspect signs from that desperately hoped-for source ...and this is the most important insight or message of the play" as Kolenda contends 28. Rather, it is because of their "horror"29which Beckett's writings declare, the horror that Godot creates in them (for he would chastise them) and they contemplate hanging themselves as the best riddance out of unknown penal measures. It is such fear that inundates the extrinsic and intrinsic aspects of their being - "One daren't even laugh anymore"(I.p.11):"if it is not prohibited "(I.p.19), as Vladimir confesses. Their vassalage to Godot is of the sort that distracts, if not paralyses their reasoning of things. It stupidifies them. And Vladimir and Estragon become germane to absurdity and idiocy. And all 'scenes' of buffoonery and risibility, all games and songs, all unrelated utterances and sudden detours of the subjectmatter in focus, run in the same vein, i.e., these scenes function to explicate to what extent their fears they bear because of Godot have reached. Didi and Gogo forget how to manage even simple jobs like taking-on/off the boots or controlling the physical needs. On the one hand, stage directions enhance their relapse into a silenced fear: "They remain here motionless, arms dangling, head sunk, sagging at the knees"(I.p.19). On the other hand, it is through such an atmosphere of fear prevalent in the play as a whole that Lucky was nudged "to believe that only within [the master-slave] pattern can there be any safety for him"30. Fear is among the powerful instincts in man and when it controls, as in the play, it is conducive to shape what seems as a self-preparedness or susceptibility to slavery - to make oneself a tool for the purpose of an extra person31. With the passage of time, subjection and obedience take the form of iterated behaviours which are still connected to the external impact of fear. To the slave, slavery thus becomes a habit due to fear when he submits unremittingly to his master. This is the case with Lucky when he shows ultimate subjugation to Pozzo. Yet Lucky is ostensibly left "to make himself comfortable"(I.p.31) as Pozzo ironically spells out. Actually Lucky is not warranted to do anything not because "he doesn't want to" (1. p.31) as Pozzo subjoins, but because he avoids himself further lashes of the whip - he dreads to be chastised! And Lucky is left with no other choice but to obey Pozzo's orders - to be a slave! Slavery, hence, is doomed and determined by Pozzo who insinuates his belief rather very loudly when he says that "To each one [is] his due" (I. P.31). Therefore, enhanced by fear, such susceptibility to slavery helps shape Lucky's vassalage which glosses over the impression that it is "voluntary" and "masochistic" as Eva Metman in her article "Reflections on Samuel Beckett's Plays"32and the authors of A Student's Guide to the Plays of Samuel Beckelt, 33 refer to respectively. It is not without significance that Lucky "has sacrificed everything even his soul and his creativeness"34.Pozzo, as a sadistic figure, does not care a damn for Lucky's inarticulate feelings and silenced sufferings and gagged needs. Pozzo, therefore, shows a certain state of muteness of feelings Indifference and impassivity. He is imperturbable to Lucky's burdens that he ridiculously regards as mere "professional worries" (I. P.33). Thus slavery, once declared as a 'profession' or "job" (I. p.31), is ironically abstracted and refined from all the laves and associations of disparaging and humiliation, scorn and cruelty, humanity through hundreds of years has recognized and rebelled against. Here, in Waiting, slavery has got a new garment to array spangled with misinformation - Pozzo through the use of language shifts intentionally the minds - readers' minds, away from the traditional archetype of the cruel master we have in our collective consciousness. What becomes of Lucky according to Pozzo's claim is due to the liabilities of the profession or "job" itself rather than, by any means, to his relationship to the master. Again Pozzo resorts to misinformation and illusion words may interpolate - by eulogizing Lucky in heartrending ostentations. Pozzo uses 'language' to truss a putative possibility, available - here in his land – in an indefinite region of the "Cacon" Country, of peaceful coexistence of slaves and masters in such a relationship not only devoid from antagonism and struggle between those whose "jobs" are slaves and those who 'work' as masters, but also contrary to what Vladimir later counts as exploitation (I.p.34). Opposite to Vladimir's anticipations, he shows there occurs between the master and the slave a 'psychological' rapprochement' of some sort:

Pozzo; (groaning, clutching his head). I can't bear it... any longer ... (he waves his arms ... he collapses, his head in his hands)...

… …………………………………..

(Sobbing) He used to be so kind ... so helpful ... and entertaining ... my good angel.. and now he's killing me




But an afterthought later, Pozzo falsifies what he has just claimed, using once more ' language' to indoctrinate another dose of deception and misinformation:

Pozzo: (calm). Gentleman, I don't know what came over me.... Forget all I said ... but you may be sure there wasn't a word of truth in it. (Drawing himself up, striking his chest). Do I look like a man that can be made to suffer?


( I .p .34)


Vladimir: After having sucked all the good out of him you chuck him away like a ... like a banana skin. Really...


(I. p. 34) 


A close reading of the above-mentioned excerpts may trace a sort of 'propaganda' behind Pozzo's ostentations - perhaps he wants to dispose of blame and stricture Vladimir confronts him with:

Earlier he declares that "the best thing would be to kill [slaves since] ... old dogs have more dignity" (I. p.32) than them. By his ostentations, he aims at garnishing his image as a 'humanitarian master' who by no means believes in slavery' though he has a slave!

       In like manner Vladimir and Estragon develop what seems as self-preparedness to vassalage. It looks like a habit that turns into vassalage when an element of time is added. Habit, as Vladimir describes, is "the great deadener" (11.p.91) Eva Metman comments on this point - she says that "'waiting ... has become a habit which Beckett calls a 'guarantee of dull inviolability .., an adaptation to the meaninglessness of 'life". Although the habit of being here is germinated by their waiting a gamut of years for Godot who is Pozzo's invisible replica, Pozzo-Lucky relationship is conducive to trace Godot's strong bond entangling his followers to him. Godot as a master does not care a damn for their long tedious waiting. And his iterated procrastinations and abjurations keep them suffer. Godot continues 'using language' as a tool to gloss over things, to deceive and make-believe through the same words carried by his boy messenger each time. He is as sadistic as Pozzo. Godot has reached, on his part, a certain imperturbability, impassivity and absence of feelings - the ataraxia and apathia as Pozzo has. 'To preserve his supremacy, he needs creating certain illusions into his followers' minds through words— Beckett reveals such a belief through one of his narrative characters, that "the word', to Molloy, "is a traitor rather than truth. You either lie or hold your piece"36

      According to this analysis, Vladimir's arid Estragon's susceptibility to vassalage is somehow blurred and obscured for one reason. It is actioned on the invisible level of the structure of the play. This is done through the introduction of a new element. It is the use of' 'silences' which almost the majority of the writers of the Absurd drama employ in their works. They use some possibilities of what it is known as "aesthetics of silence" as termed in the above-mentioned Student's Guide37. Beckett, Pinter and Ionesco, for example, use silence as a technique. Pinter differentiates between two kinds of silence. In 1962, he made a speech and said:

There are two silences. One when no word is spoken. The other when perhaps a torrent of language is being employed. This speech is speaking of a language locked beneath it... The speech we hear is an indication of that we don't hear38

Yet the case is different with Beckett, the pioneer of the Absurd drama for he employs silences in Waiting in particular in some way. "Silence," Beckett says "is pouring into this play like water into a sinking ship39. These silences form what Beckett himself calls" the stylized movement in the play''40 and they together with

the 'pauses' specified in the stage directions must be scrupulously respected. If this is done, the play's characteristic rhythm, which consists of the alternation between a burst of speech and activity on the one hand and period of motionless silence on the other, comes forcibly across 41.

So silence in Waiting for Godot forms a still-life on stage that works as a smokescreen to hide the unuttered or inarticulate reflecting as such the assumption that words lie limp to express, i.e., the use of silence shows "a radical devaluation of language''42. In addition, it is dramatically justified. It serves as a reflection43 to it.

Silences are lavishly dispersed in between yet other elements such as dialogic utterances, (non-)actions and plot fragments. That is to say, either element of these is further fractionized by the meshes of silences at which dramatis personae motion (whether verbal or kinetic), stops. Thus, motionlessness becomes to mean or refer to silence which is, as a technique in drama, a novelty borrowed from "radio -drama where silence simply negates the character"44 as well as from movie techniques. In cinema (especially at its early stages), silence is paralleled to what seems, in operating a film, as sudden jerks of the motion pictures in Charlie Chaplin's silent films45 _ the sequence of projected shots in such films is discontinued per a few seconds by frequent stops that create the visual illusion of disintegrated jerky pictures. In drama, silence, generally speaking, among Beckett's "dramatic ammunition"46, works not only as a visual alienation tool for disillusionment of illusion, but also an aim aspired to get access to47since it is "the language of the non-self"'48. Moreover, it is Beckett's preference, as Gluck writes in his Beckett and Joyce, to work "more and more with ... stasis rather than movement"49. It reveals his "loss of faith in language and [his] distrust in the word"50. In Waiting, silences have a lot to do. They may turn Vladimir's and Estragon's on-stage running-life to abrupt 'still-life' for a few moments - the silences of a gamut of abrupt still-life seconds are analogous to the 'film-cadres' or 'cinematic shots' but with a slight difference - they are theatrically presented, intentionally still-motioned and sporadically inserted by the dramatist regardless to regularity in the timing available in silent movie, reflecting as such the unuttered, the ineffable, the unstaged and the invisible. When silence is used in regularly-timed intervals as for example in Act 11, pp.62-63, it undergirds and balances these running 'cadres' or periods which are reserved to present Vladimir-Estragon repartee - the flow of their past recollections as they rapidly survey die horrors they once upon a time lived through in the atheistic 'Macon' Country, whereas the silences, in juxtaposition, serve to represent the other but invisible horrors - the unseen 'realities' that here in the Free World - in the 'Cacon' Country they in their relationship with Godot up to now have been undergoing moment by moment. But they could not utter! Or say they utter the SILENCE! Their honors are silenced. Vladimir and Estragon are seen retreated into the abyss of their selves, each - into the VOID! As such "there is no communication ... because there are no vehicles of communication" in the void as Beckett in Proust comments51. Hence, Beckett initiates here "a new form of drama in which a character ... will stare at the audience and say nothing," 52 still-motioned! These silences are forays into another realm - the non-being of their out-of-scene obedience, i.e., their underworld of the susceptibility to vassalage. It is to this invisible wilderness Vladimir and Estragon devolve and traverse back, again and again, to fear, vassalage and imperturbability of both the past and present in such a journey-like move, to and fro, from 'running-life' to 'still-life' and vice versa, from the utterable or the articulate - when they could reveal things, to the unutterable or inarticulate when they could not. The journey between past recollections, on one part, and current suffering, on the other, reflects the incredible dilemma they are ensnared into - they seem 'partly living, partly dead to quote Eliot's Women of Canterbury in Murder in the Cathedral. Thus susceptibility to vassalage reduces Vladimir and Estragon to non-existence and self-demolition. "Becket's heroes endure a state of existence," Rubin Rabinevitz writes, "so miserable that it no longer can be called living. He therefore calls it dying, and one of his heroes can die many times in the course of life"53. And although continuing, such a life doesn't go on for it is abstracted from time. "It," Gunther Andres writes, "becomes a life without time… [To Vladimir and Estragon], time appears to be standing still and becomes (in analogy to Hegel's 'bad infinity') a 'bad eternity'.... Time here has become something like a stagnant mush"54. This is an ambiguous experience in which we witness "a turning to silence ... [and] retreat from the word [reflected] in a recent but decisive development in the cultural history of western civilization"55. And language becomes "inadequate to convey"56 anything for "what happens on stage transcends and often contradicts the words spoken by the characters" 57 because "in the arts, avocal or alinguistic disciplines are thriving58 and "you would do better," Beckett believes," to obliterate texts than to blacken margins"59. In a similar matching point, Lucky who is Vladimir's and Estragon's replica on the visible level of the vassalage has attained such an absolute phase of silence in Act II in synchronization to deprivation of his 'voice'. Earlier the play shows Lucky's total surrender of his rights to Pozzo, which is not verbally declared, i.e., in words spoken by Lucky himself. Rather, his extraction of his rights, in Act I, is vividly staged in a true-to-life humility through his abject obedience to Pozzo's non-verbal commands - the jerks of the rope and his subjugation to Pozzo's direct orders - the verbal ones. To Lucky, submissive deeds speak louder than words. In Act II, Lucky's role becomes dichotomized into two spheres: the kinetic (body), and the verbal (dialogue or voice). And what we see is only the kinetic sphere. Lucky is dumb! He is in a sense deprived of the verbal role though he is performing action by body-language. This 'dialogue' is inarticulate and inaudible whereas his performance is visible. Perhaps, the dramatist preponderates the role played by body alone over that by words on purpose. He attempts to 'deaden' or say 'silence' Lucky's physical voice to convey another idea - silence is the preliminary step forward to deaden or exterminate the body itself, to slander the spoken and favour the unspoken . In other words, vassalage is in charge of bringing its victims to the brink of non-being, muteness and loss of feeling and life. And in this respect, Lucky's surrender or quittal of his rights when matched to that of Vladimir's and Estragon's, together, may be conducive to a further aspect of the invisible vassalage - their renunciation of 'human' rights to Godot.

Vladimir tells Estragon that they surrendered their "rights" (l.p.19) in favour of Godot to ensure their safety and rescue at their first meeting with him - they entered kneeling and prostrated and when they left they crept back. Their condescension of rights looks like a parody of a Rousseau-like theory of the social contract according to which people forgo their rights in favour of the State. Vladimir thinks that their rights do not concern either of them. They mainly concern their master Godot. Vladimir uses "get rid of (l.p.19) when he means 'forgo rights'. His use of the verb conveys a meagre sense they have that their 'human' rights are mere bad 'secretions' just like 'excrement' in a world ironically dubbed as and full of 'each' - a matter that they should get rid of. "Rights" are considered as 'curses' on humans. So since Vladimir and Estragon yielded themselves to Godot, they should not murmur or whisper, suffer or complain, feel bored or angry. They should follow the orders as they have no rights to complain, to feel, to have "voice"! Thus, they have reached, through their disclaiming their rights, to another sort of ataraxia and apathia - the muteness of their feelings, the impassivity of their senses, the imperturbability to anything concerning or round them. They are existentially abolished and become 'nothingness' and 'non-being' while Godot, though he himself is unseen, impassive and imperturbable to others, becomes the sole Occidental paradox of autocracy and barbarism, of deception and misinformation and controls the whole situation under his heavy hand - he holds in his firm grip his followers' souls and necks: (non-)actions and thinking - the invisible and the visible in their non-being. No one is commissioned to utter a word about or deal with 'rights' save one who is Godot, me Bogle!

So far new spots on Godot's hegemony, inhumanity and ataraxia have been lit above first through all kinds of indescribable horror immersing Vladimir's and Estragon's non-being while in the Cacon country, secondly through their reluctant susceptibility to sink into an invisible abyss of mute serfdom where all vocal disciplines are immediately obliterated and non-communicative irrationalities resuscitated, and thirdly through the coercive riddance of their rights: such riddance that tosses not only them but mankind as well back to prehistoric epochs of die law of jungle, primitivism and darkness. These are me peculiar beams seen in the spectrum of the thematic conducivenesses of the invisible vassalage uniquely reflected by the sole prism of Lucky's ultimate servitude to Pozzo.

      Vladimir's and Hstragon's invisible vassalage and Godot's unactioned despotism are the obverse and reverse clone rustic coin that happens to be polished to brightness by the emery of Lucky's onstage serfdom, whereas either face of the coin reveals a relief in which both the victim and victimizer appear complete underdogs shrinking to non-being and impassivity, to dehumanization and self-fragmentation through the prevalence - in merely the serfs' non-entities as shown in the play, of illusion and horrors, of absurdity and buffoonery and confiscation of their human rights in favour of their Big Brother, Godot, who is depicted as a 'black hole' gorging everything!



1.A.J. Leventhal, "The Beckett Hero," Samuel Beckett: Collections of Critical Essays, Twentieth Century Views, ed., Martin Esslin (Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1965), p.43

2.Barbara Reich Gluck, Beckett and Joyce: Friendship and Fiction (London: Bucknell University Press, 1979), p.141.

3. Ibid, p.I4I.

4. Beryl S. Fletcher, et al, A Student's Guide to the Plays of Samuel Beckett (London and Boston: Faber and Faber Ltd, 1978), p. 41.

5. Konstantine Kolenda, Philosophy in Literature: Metaphysical Darkness and Ethical Light (London: The Macmillan Press, 1982), p.I59.

6. Fletcher, p.40.

7. Ibid, p.41.

8. Ibid, p.4I.

9. Kolenda, p.I62.

10. Ibid, p.I63.

11.Gunther Andres, "Being without Time: On Beckett's play Waiting for Godot," Samuel Beckett: Collections of Critical Essays, Twentieth Century Views, ed., Martin Esslin (Englewood cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1965), p.149.

12. For the circularity of the structure sec Gluck, pp.l46ff.

13. Kolenda, p.147.

14. As quoted in Fletcher, p. 35.

15.For Brecht's influence on Absurd drama see Fletcher, p. 31 and Martin Esslin, ed., "Introduction," Absurd Drama: Penguin plays, I9th Repr. (Great Britain: Penguin Books, 1982), p. 17.

16.Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot: a Tragicomedy in Two Acts, 9th Repr. (London: Faber and Faber Ltd., 1977), p.32. Herein reference will be made to Act and page numbers into the text.

17. As quoted in Fletcher, p.48.

18. Fletcher, p.58.

19. Ibid, p.40.

20. See "Mahound," in The Oxford English Dictionary, 1970 Repr.VI. There are other variations of the Prophet's name such as 'Mahum, Mahun, Mahoune,. Mahown,.Macon, Mahount, Mahownde, Machound, Manhound, Maumet, .Mahom, .Mahum'.etc. See also the entry for "Mahu" and "Maho". All these .variations of the Prophet's name stand for the meanings of 'the devil', 'the infidel','the idol' or 'the dictator of Hell'. 'Macon', for example, was used by Harrington in 1591 and by Faifax in his Tasso in 1600.

21. See "Mason," in The Oxford English Dictionary, 1970Repr., VI. Still, there are other variations for the etymology of this word such as 'Machun, Machoun, Masun, Mazoun, Macon, Masowne, Machio, Machina' etc .

22. Abdul-Settar Abdul-Latif Abdul-Zahra, "The Waste Land Theme in T.S. Eliot's Major Dramatic Works," M.A.Thesis Univ . of Baghdad, 1984, pp. 24-5 .

23. Martin Esslin, ed., "Introduction," Samuel Beckctt : Collections of Critical Essays, Twentieth Century Views (Englewood Cliffs, N.J:Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1965), pp. 10-4 .

24. Ibid, pp. 12-3.

25. Ibid.p.13.

26. Fletcher, p.62.

27. Andres, p.l50.

28. Kolenda, p.161.

29. Gluck, p.l09.

30.Eva Metman, "Reflections on Samuel Beckett's Plays," Samuel Beckett: Collections of Critical Essays, Twentieth Century Views, ed., Martin Esslin (Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1965), p.123.

31.For further information on the psychological effects of servitude, see Ruth Munroe's School of Psychoanalytic Thought: An Exposition, Critique and Attempt at Integration (N.Y: Holt Rinehart and Winston Inc., 1955) pp. 391ff and also Man Alone: Alienation in Moderm Society ,ed.Eric and Mary Josephson,5th printing (N.Y: Laurel, 1966), pp.16ff.

32. Metman, p. 123.

33. Fletcher, p.41.

34. Metman, p.l23.

35. Ibid., p.l25. .

36. As quoted in Gluck, p. 111.

37. Ibid., p.27. :

38. As quoted in Ronald Hayman, How To Read a play, 3rdRepr. (London: Methuen, The Chaucer Press, 1984), p.30.

39. As quoted in Fletcher, p.36.

40. As quoted in Fletcher, p. 44.

41. Fletcher, p.44.

42. Ibid.p.23.

43. Ibid. p.27. : .

44. Hayman, p.74.

45. For the mention of Charlie Chaplin as related to Absurd theatre, see Fletcher, p.26, and Esslin's "Introduction", Absurd Drama, p. 16.

46. Ramji Lall, Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot: a Critical Study, 6th Ed. (New Delhi; Rama Brothers, 1938), p.26.

47. Gluck, p.lll .

48. Ross Chambers, "Beckett's Brinkmanship," in Samuel Beckett: Collection of

Critical Essays, Twentieth Century Views, cd., Martin Esslin (Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-IIall, Inc., 1965), p. 166.

49. Ibid, p. 111.

50. Ibid, p. 111.

51. As quoted in Gluck, pp.47 & 112.

52. Ibid. p. 111.

53.Rubin Rabinovitz, "Samuel Beckett's Figurative Language," Contemporary Literature, 26, No. 3 (Fall 1985), 328.

54. Andres, p. 146.

55. Gluck, pp.110 & 109.

56. Chambers, p.160.

57. Fletcher, p.23.

58. Gluck, p. 110.

59. As quoted in Gluck, p. 109.


Abdul-Zahra, Abdul-Settar Abdul-Latif. "The Waste Land Theme in T.S. Eliot's Major Dramatic Works". M.A.Thesis University of Baghdad, 1984.

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