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Waiting for Godot

Waiting for Godot

by Samuel Beckett

Mortality Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

ESTRAGON
It'd be better if we parted.
VLADIMIR
You always say that and you always come crawling back.
ESTRAGON
The best thing would be to kill me, like the other.
VLADIMIR
What other? (Pause.) What other?
ESTRAGON
Like billions of others.
VLADIMIR
(sententious) To every man his little cross. (He sighs.) Till he dies. (Afterthought.) And is forgotten. (2.85-91)

Both men seem to see death as some sort of relief or end; for Estragon, it is "the best thing," or for Vladimir it is the end of each man’s personal crucifixion. It follows, then, that they are not only waiting for Godot, but waiting for death.

Quote #8

ESTRAGON
All the dead voices.
VLADIMIR
They make a noise like wings.
ESTRAGON
Like leaves.
VLADIMIR
Like sand.
ESTRAGON
Like leaves.
Silence.
VLADIMIR
They all speak at once.
ESTRAGON
Each one to itself.
Silence.
VLADIMIR
Rather they whisper.
ESTRAGON
They rustle.
VLADIMIR
They murmur.
ESTRAGON
They rustle.
Silence.
VLADIMIR
What do they say?
ESTRAGON
They talk about their lives.
VLADIMIR
To have lived is not enough for them.
ESTRAGON
They have to talk about it.
VLADIMIR
To be dead is not enough for them.
ESTRAGON
It is not sufficient.
Silence.
VLADIMIR
They make a noise like feathers.
ESTRAGON
Like leaves.
VLADIMIR
Likes ashes.
ESTRAGON
Like leaves. (2.98-118)

This is arguably the darkest moment in Waiting for Godot, and it pretty much comes out of nowhere. It is disturbing that both men are in utter agreement about the voices they hear; it means either that the noises of the dead are a real, shared experience, or that one man is willing to indulge the macabre fantasies of the other. Check out the three pairings of repetition in Estragon’s line. First "like leaves" is repeated twice, then "they rustle," and finally "like leaves" yet again. The repetition is par for the course in Waiting for Godot – a reminder of cycles and absurdity. But the image of leaves is also cyclic – just think about the tree which has sprouted overnight.

Quote #9

ESTRAGON
Well? If we gave thanks for our mercies?
VLADIMIR
What is terrible is to have thought.
ESTRAGON
But did that ever happen to us?
VLADIMIR
Where are all these corpses from?
ESTRAGON
These skeletons.
VLADIMIR
Tell me that.
ESTRAGON
True.
VLADIMIR
We must have thought a little.
ESTRAGON
At the very beginning.
VLADIMIR
A charnel-house! A charnel-house!
ESTRAGON
You don't have to look.
VLADIMIR
You can't help looking.
ESTRAGON
True. (2.154-166)

Images of death and decay are thrown arbitrarily into otherwise unrelated dialogue in Waiting for Godot. This is what makes the discussions (of corpses, in this particular case) so disturbing, but it reiterates a main thematic point of the play: that death in fact is arbitrary and without justification.

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