Article Title

The Globalization of Beckett's Godot


Enoch Brater


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

When, in the second act of Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett’s landmark play that premiered in Paris in 1953, Didi complains to his sidekick about not wasting any more time in “idle discourse,” he delivers a stage speech rich in the implications for this work’s range and accessibility:

Let us do something, while we have the chance! It is not every day that we are needed. Not indeed that we are personally needed. Others would meet the case equally well, if not better. To all mankind they were addressed, those cries for help still ringing in our ears! But at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not. Let us make the most of it, before it is too late!1

Moments later, Gogo, not to be outdone, will prove similarly universalist in his approach to the matter at hand. Pozzo, transformed and now “as blind as Fortune,” and Lucky, now dumb, lie sprawled on Beckett’s stage floor (and it should be noted that not every dramatist would risk placing actors in such a compromising position). Pozzo cries out for help, and he will do so more than once. On this stage space there’s always time to spare and time to fart, or so it seems; Gogo’s game plan is to call the fallen protagonists by all the names he can think of until he hits upon the right ones. A distraught Pozzo replies to the first two that come to mind, Cain, and then Abel. “He’s all humanity,” a delighted Gogo cries out in a rare instance of self-congratulation. Whether or not an agonized Pozzo is responding to the name-game, or merely repeating his frustration, is far less important than the universal reading Estragon gives to his line.

Note1 Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot (New York: Grove, 1954), 51. Subsequent citations from the play in my text are taken from this edition.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.