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Vladimir and Estragon: A Symbol of Man

AP English January 19, 1999 Vladimir and Estragon: A Symbol of Man Many Authors use different techniques in their wittings. Samuel Beckett uses allusions and references to characters to help the reader understand what the characters represent. In his drama Waiting for Godot, Beckett?s two main characters, Estragon and Vladimir, are symbolized as man. Separate they are two different sides of man, but together they represent man as a whole. In Waiting for Godot, Beckett uses Estragon and Vladimir to symbolize man?s physical and mental state. Estragon represents the physical side of man, while Vladimir represents the intellectual side of man. In each way these two look for answers shows their side of man. Estragon has his shoes. Vladimir has his hat. When Estragon takes off his shoes ?he peers inside it, feels about inside it, turns it upside sown, shakes it…?1. Through this action it is relevant that Estragon is searching for something from his boot, but unable to recognize it. This symbolizes man?s side of using physical ability to answer questions. Vladimir on the other hand continues to look into his hat. Vladirmir constantly ?Takes off his hat, peers inside it, feels about inside it, shakes it, puts it on again?2. Through this action Vladimir is shown to be searching for answers in his hat, which symbolizes his using knowledge and his intellectual capability for solving problems. Both Estragon and Vladimir are searching for what the reader assumes to be the key to life?s problems. When they continue to do this throughout the drama, it expresses the fact that they are searching and will continue to search until they find what they are looking for. Vladimir is more practical, and Estragon is more of a romantic. In the drama, Estragon wants to talk about his dreams. Vladimir doesn?t want to. He can not stand to hear about the dreams that Estragon has. When Estragon wakes up from falling asleep he says ?I had a dream?. Vladimir answers with ?Don?t tell me?3. Another example is that Estragon often forgets events as soon as they happen or within a day, while Vladimir, on the other hand, remember past events4. This is shown when Pozzo and Lucky enter into the scene in the second act. Estragon and Vladimir see two men coming. Vladimir recognizes it as Pozzo, from the day before, but Estragon does not recognize him. The conversation starts with Vladimir: Poor Pozzo I knew it was him Who? Godot. But it?s not Godot. It?s not Godot? It?s not Godot. Then who is it? It?s Pozzo5. This exchange in dialog shows that Estragon does not recognize Pozzo, and Vladimir has to tell Estragon who it is. The two of them are dependent on each other. Estragon is beaten every night by mysterious men. Vladimir acts as his protector. He sings to him, helps him take off his boots, and covers him with his jacket6. Every night they part, yet they find each other every morning and start another day of waiting. In each act, Estragon and Vladimir talk about hanging themselves form the tree. During this exchange of words, Estragon suggest that they hang themselves from a near by tree. Vladimir is the one who is particle and explains why they can?t hang themselves. The physical side and the intellectual side is shown through Estragon?s and Vladimir?s actions, as well as their words. They have a friend ship that is bonded by their differences. Without one another they would be lost, just like without the intellectual side of man, the physical side would be lost, and visa versa. Endnotes 1 Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot (New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1954) 8 left. 2 Beckett 8 left. 3 Beckett 11 left. 4 Martin Esslin, ?The Search for the Self,? Modern Critical Interpretations Waiting for Godot, ed. Harold Bloom (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987) 29. 5 Beckett 50 right. 6 Esslin 29 Bibliography Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot. New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1954. Esslin, Martin ?The Search for the Self.? Modern Critical Interpretations Waiting for Godot. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 1987.


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