Study Guide

Waiting for Godot Suffering

By Samuel Beckett


Suffering is a constant and fundamental part of human existence in Waiting for Godot. Every character suffers and suffers always, with no seeming respite in sight. The hardships range from the physical to the mental, the minor to the extreme. Suffering drives some men to find companionship (so as to weather the storm together), causes others to abuse their companions (to lessen the suffering of the self), and motivates others isolate themselves (since watching people suffer is a kind of anguish on its own).

Questions About Suffering

  1. What is the worst kind of suffering we see in Waiting for Godot?
  2. Have Estragon and Vladimir ever been happy? How do they define "happy"?
  3. Is there any purpose served by Gogo's and Didi’s suffering? Do they learn from it?

Chew on This

Vladimir and Estragon suffer not for lack of happiness, but for lack of certainty. It is worse to not know whether or not they are miserable than to be certain of their anguish.