Waiting for Godot By Samuel Beckett Summary and Analysis Act I: Vladimir and Estragon Alone

After the boy leaves, Vladimir and Estragon are left alone. Night has fallen and the moon has risen. The two tramps resolve to leave since there is "nothing to do here," but then, hopefully, Vladimir reminds Estragon that the boy said "Godot was sure to come to-morrow." Thus, they must wait — even though nothing is certain. Impulsively, they decide to leave — but do not do so.

The first act ends as it began. Estragon is still concerned about his feet and his boots, which he is now carrying. Vladimir reminds Estragon that he can't go barefoot because it's too cold, and Estragon compares his going barefoot with Christ's going barefoot. Vladimir can't see the comparison; Christ went barefoot in a warm climate. Yet Estragon is quick to point out that it was precisely because of that warm climate that Christ was crucified quickly, whereas here and now, man, by implication, must suffer for an extended time. The futility of their situation makes Estagon wish for some rope so that he can hang himself. The thought of death reminds him of a time about fifty years, ago when he threw himself in the Rhone River and was "fished out" by Vladimir. This allusion reminds us of the Christian symbols of baptism, cleansing, and renewal. Yet the incident occurred fifty years ago, so now it is "all dead and buried." In other words, there is no more hope of baptism and renewal — instead, they must face the coldness and the darkness of the world alone.

The first act began with the line "Nothing to be done." Nothing has been done. Now Vladimir and Estragon realize that "nothing is certain," and that "nothing is worth while now." Consequently, they decide: "Let's go." But instead, according to the stage directions, "They do not move." The act ends, therefore, with a contradiction between their words and their actions. All they can do now is simply wait.

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