Waiting for Godot
by Samuel Beckett
Waiting for Godot Life, Consciousness, and Existence Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue.
(suddenly furious) Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time! It's abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you, one day he went dumb, one day I went blind, one day we'll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you? (Calmer.) They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more. (He jerks the rope.) On!
Exeunt Pozzo and Lucky. Vladimir follows them to the edge of the stage, looks after them. The noise of falling, reinforced by mimic of Vladimir, announces that they are down again. Silence. (2.773)
Pozzo’s final line is a lasting image in Waiting for Godot. He paints the picture of a birth taking place literally over a grave; the "gleam" of light he describes is the course of a life, and then presumably the being falls – dead – into the grave. This dismal outlook – very different from the Pozzo of Act I – seems to be the result of his going blind, which he says means he can no longer see the workings of time. Now that he can assign no meaning to time, Pozzo finds life fleeting and without purpose.
Was I sleeping, while the others suffered? Am I sleeping now? Tomorrow, when I wake, or think I do, what shall I say of today? That with Estragon my friend, at this place, until the fall of night, I waited for Godot? That Pozzo passed, with his carrier, and that he spoke to us? Probably. But in all that what truth will there be?
(Estragon, having struggled with his boots in vain, is dozing off again. Vladimir looks at him.) He'll know nothing. He'll tell me about the blows he received and I'll give him a carrot. (Pause.) Astride of a grave and a difficult birth. Down in the hole, lingeringly, the grave digger puts on the forceps. We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. (He listens.) But habit is a great deadener. (He looks again at Estragon.) At me too someone is looking, of me too someone is saying, He is sleeping, he knows nothing, let him sleep on. (Pause.) I can't go on! (Pause.) What have I said? (2.795)
Vladimir has brilliantly encapsulated the most difficult concepts of Waiting for Godot, only to promptly forget all that he’s uttered! Let’s look at this little speech though, since it’s confusing the first time around. Vladimir first asks himself what will happen tomorrow. He outlines all the mundane events he foresees: his conversation with Estragon, the carrot, etc. He knows he will then try to remember what happened today, but even if he accurately recalls it all, there won’t be any truth there in his memories, since there is nothing of meaning in the events of the day to ponder. There is only banality and purposelessness. Now, Pozzo has just claimed that the problem with life is time; we don’t have enough time, so life is too fleeting for us to find meaning. But here, Vladimir disagrees: the problem isn’t time, he says – we obviously have plenty of that. The problem is what we do with that time: we fill it with empty habits. These habits are what deaden our lives, or strip it of meaning, probably because habit is action without thought or purpose.