Let’s just say right off the bat that a play so filled with dualities is going to be full of foils. We chose the biggest ones to talk about here, and of course the most obvious is Estragon and Vladimir. Vladimir comes off as the caretaker, Estragon as the man in need. Estragon has no issue with playing the part of a beggar, but Vladimir allows his pride to get in the way of his practicality. Perhaps most important is that these men have very different types of intelligence; Vladimir is the more intellectual, Estragon the more emotional. Vladimir tries to function on a logical base, Estragon has clearly given that up long ago. In fact, the way the men look at the Bible is a great example of their contrasting characters. Vladimir gets bogged down in the logistics. He’s concerned with the lack of consistency in one particular biblical tale (the two thieves crucified with Christ) and in a sense misses the forest for the trees. Estragon, on the other hand, comes off as a simpleton who looks only at pictures, but in fact he comes away from the Bible with a comforting vision of the Holy Land – arguably more than Vladimir took from the experience of reading it.
As the two central duos in Waiting for Godot, this pair of pairs is ripe for a foil analysis. Because Pozzo and Lucky have a master-slave relationship, it makes us take a closer look at Vladimir and Estragon. Do they too play the part of master and slave? If so, which is which? Likewise, Vladimir and Estragon’s codependence suggests the same of Pozzo and Lucky. Both pairs struggle with the question of whether they are better with or without each other, and neither comes to any sort of real conclusion.