Vladimir And Estragon: A Symbol Of Man Essay, Research Paper
January 19, 1999
Vladimir and Estragon: A Symbol of Man
Many Authors use different techniques in their wittings. Samuel Beckett uses
allusions and references to characters to help the reader understand what the characters
represent. In his drama Waiting for Godot, Beckett?s two main characters, Estragon and
Vladimir, are symbolized as man. Separate they are two different sides of man, but
together they represent man as a whole.
In Waiting for Godot, Beckett uses Estragon and Vladimir to symbolize man?s
physical and mental state. Estragon represents the physical side of man, while Vladimir
represents the intellectual side of man. In each way these two look for answers shows
their 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 it
upside sown, shakes it…?1. Through this action it is relevant that Estragon is searching
for something from his boot, but unable to recognize it. This symbolizes man?s side of
using physical ability to answer questions. Vladimir on the other hand continues to look
into 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 for
answers in his hat, which symbolizes his using knowledge and his intellectual capability
for solving problems. Both Estragon and Vladimir are searching for what the reader
assumes to be the key to life?s problems. When they continue to do this throughout the
drama, it expresses the fact that they are searching and will continue to search until they
find 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 to
hear about the dreams that Estragon has. When Estragon wakes up from falling asleep he
says ?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, on
the other hand, remember past events4. This is shown when Pozzo and Lucky enter into
the scene in the second act. Estragon and Vladimir see two men coming. Vladimir
recognizes it as Pozzo, from the day before, but Estragon does not recognize him. The
conversation starts with Vladimir:
I knew it was him
But it?s not Godot.
It?s not Godot?
It?s not Godot.
Then who is it?
This exchange in dialog shows that Estragon does not recognize Pozzo, and Vladimir has
to tell Estragon who it is.
The two of them are dependent on each other. Estragon is beaten every night by
mysterious men. Vladimir acts as his protector. He sings to him, helps him take off his
boots, and covers him with his jacket6. Every night they part, yet they find each other
every morning and start another day of waiting. In each act, Estragon and Vladimir talk
about hanging themselves form the tree. During this exchange of words, Estragon
suggest that they hang themselves from a near by tree. Vladimir is the one who is
particle and explains why they can?t hang themselves.
The physical side and the intellectual side is shown through Estragon?s and
Vladimir?s actions, as well as their words. They have a friend ship that is bonded by
their differences. Without one another they would be lost, just like without the
intellectual side of man, the physical side would be lost, and visa versa.
1 Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot (New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1954) 8
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
Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot. New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1954.
Esslin, Martin ?The Search for the Self.? Modern Critical Interpretations Waiting for
Godot. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 1987.