Waiting for Godot
Waiting for Godot Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
(Estragon with a supreme effort succeeds in pulling off his boot. He peers inside it, feels about inside it, turns it upside down, shakes it, looks on the ground to see if anything has fallen out, finds nothing, feels inside it again, staring sightlessly before him.) Well? ESTRAGON Nothing. VLADIMIR Show me. ESTRAGON There's nothing to show. VLADIMIR Try and put it on again. (1.34-8)
Estragon’s putzing about with his boot is a central iteration of absurdity in the play. It’s unclear what he’s looking for inside the boot and obviously irrational that anything will materialize if he puts it back on. On the other hand, we are also introduced to the sort of backwards logic of Waiting for Godot in this scene. Vladimir has a point: if Estragon puts his boot on, there will be something inside it.
ESTRAGON What did we do yesterday? VLADIMIR What did we do yesterday? ESTRAGON Yes. VLADIMIR Why . . . (Angrily.) Nothing is certain when you're about. ESTRAGON In my opinion we were here. VLADIMIR (looking round) You recognize the place? ESTRAGON I didn't say that. VLADIMIR Well? ESTRAGON That makes no difference. (1.122-130)
The unreliability of memory is one of the reasons that Waiting for Godot lacks rationale.
VLADIMIR I thought it was he. ESTRAGON Who? VLADIMIR Godot. ESTRAGON Pah! The wind in the reeds. VLADIMIR I could have sworn I heard shouts. ESTRAGON And why would he shout? VLADIMIR At his horse. Silence. ESTRAGON (violently) I'm hungry! VLADIMIR Do you want a carrot? (1.245-53)
Notice how Vladimir and Estragon switch rapidly from serious subject matter (whether or not Godot has arrived) to absurdly inane details (that would be carrots). This is part of the play’s attempt at "tragicomedy," but also the reason why Vladimir and Estragon can’t take part in anything meaningful: they are too distracted by the petty habits of everyday life.