AP EnglishJanuary 19, 1999 Vladimir and Estragon: A Symbol of Man Many Authors use different techniques in their wittings. Samuel Beckett usesallusions and references to characters to help the reader understand what the charactersrepresent. In his drama Waiting for Godot, Beckett s two main characters, Estragon andVladimir, are symbolized as man. Separate they are two different sides of man, buttogether they represent man as a whole. In Waiting for Godot, Beckett uses Estragon and Vladimir to symbolize man sphysical and mental state. Estragon represents the physical side of man, while Vladimirrepresents the intellectual side of man. In each way these two look for answers showstheir side of man. Estragon has his shoes. Vladimir has his hat. When Estragon takes off his shoes he peers inside it, feels about inside it, turns itupside sown, shakes it… 1. Through this action it is relevant that Estragon is searchingfor something from his boot, but unable to recognize it. This symbolizes man s side ofusing physical ability to answer questions. Vladimir on the other hand continues to lookinto his hat. Vladirmir constantly Takes off his hat, peers inside it, feels about inside it,shakes it, puts it on again 2. Through this action Vladimir is shown to be searching foranswers in his hat, which symbolizes his using knowledge and his intellectual capabilityfor solving problems. Both Estragon and Vladimir are searching for what the readerassumes to be the key to life s problems. When they continue to do this throughout thedrama, it expresses the fact that they are searching and will continue to search until theyfind what they are looking for. Vladimir is more practical, and Estragon is more of a romantic. In the drama,Estragon wants to talk about his dreams. Vladimir doesn t want to. He can not stand tohear about the dreams that Estragon has. When Estragon wakes up from falling asleep hesays I had a dream . Vladimir answers with Don t tell me 3. Another example is that
Estragon often forgets events as soon as they happen or within a day, while Vladimir, onthe other hand, remember past events4. This is shown when Pozzo and Lucky enter intothe scene in the second act. Estragon and Vladimir see two men coming. Vladimirrecognizes it as Pozzo, from the day before, but Estragon does not recognize him. Theconversation starts with Vladimir:Poor PozzoI knew it was himWho?Godot.But it s not Godot.It s not Godot?It s not Godot.Then who is it?It s Pozzo5.This exchange in dialog shows that Estragon does not recognize Pozzo, and Vladimir hasto tell Estragon who it is. The two of them are dependent on each other. Estragon is beaten every night bymysterious men. Vladimir acts as his protector. He sings to him, helps him take off hisboots, and covers him with his jacket6. Every night they part, yet they find each otherevery morning and start another day of waiting. In each act, Estragon and Vladimir talkabout hanging themselves form the tree. During this exchange of words, Estragonsuggest that they hang themselves from a near by tree. Vladimir is the one who isparticle and explains why they can t hang themselves. The physical side and the intellectual side is shown through Estragon s andVladimir s actions, as well as their words. They have a friend ship that is bonded bytheir differences. Without one another they would be lost, just like without theintellectual side of man, the physical side would be lost, and visa versa. Endnotes 1 Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot (New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1954) 8left. 2 Beckett 8 left. 3 Beckett 11 left. 4 Martin Esslin, The Search for the Self, Modern Critical Interpretations Waiting for Godot, ed. Harold Bloom (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987) 29. 5 Beckett 50 right. 6 Esslin 29 BibliographyBeckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot. New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1954.Esslin, Martin The Search for the Self. Modern Critical Interpretations Waiting forGodot. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 1987.