Godot And Repitition

“Nothing to be done,” is one of the many phrases that is repeated again and again throughout Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot. Godot is an existentialist play that reads like somewhat of a language poem. That is to say, Beckett is not interested in the reader interpreting his words, but simply listening to the words and viewing the actions of his perfectly mismatched characters. Beckett uses the standard Vaudevillian style to present a play that savors of the human condition. He repeats phrases, ideas and actions that has his audience come away with many different ideas about who we are and how beautiful our human existence is even in our desperation. The structure of Waiting For Godot is determined by Beckett’s use of repetition. This is demonstrated in the progression of dialogue and action in each of the two acts in Godot.
The first thing an audience may notice about Waiting For Godot is that they are immediately set up for a comedy. The first two characters to appear on stage are Vladimir and Estragon, dressed in bowler hats and boots. These characters lend themselves to the same body types as Abbot and Costello. Vladimir is usually cast as tall and thin and Estragon just the opposite. Each character is involved in a comedic action from the plays beginning. Estragon is struggling with a tightly fitting boot that he just cannot seem to take off his foot. Vladimir is moving around bowlegged because of a bladder problem. From this beat on the characters move through a what amounts to a comedy routine. A day in the life of two hapless companions on a country road with a single tree. Beckett accomplishes two things by using this style of comedy. Comedy routines have a beginning and an ending. For Godot the routine begins at the opening of the play and ends at the intermission. Once the routine is over, it cannot continue. The routine must be done again. This creates the second act. The second act, though not an exact replication, is basically the first act repeated. The routine is put on again for the audience. The same chain of events: Estragon sleeps in a ditch, Vladimir meets him at the tree, they are visited by Pozzo and Lucky, and a boy comes to tell them that Godot will not be coming but will surely be there the following day. In this way repetition dictates the structure of the play. There is no climax in the play because the only thing the plot builds to is the coming of Godot. However, after the first act the audience has pretty much decided that Godot will never show up. It is not very long into the second act before one realizes that all they are really doing is wasting time, “Waiting for...waiting.” (50) By making the second act another show of the same routine, Beckett instills in us a feeling of our own waiting and daily routines. What is everyday for us but another of the same act. Surely small things will change, but overall we seem to be living out the same day many times over.
Another effect of repetition on the structure of Godot is the amount of characters in the play. As mentioned before, the play is set up like a Vaudeville routine. In order to maintain the integrity of the routine, the play must be based around these two characters. This leaves no room for extra characters that will get in the way of the act. To allow for the repetition of the routine to take place the cast must include only those characters who are necessary it.
The idea that the two characters are simply passing time is evident in the dialogue. The aforementioned phrase, “Nothing to be done,” is one example of repetition in dialogue. In the first half-dozen pages of the play the phrase is repeated about four times. This emphasizes the phrase so that the audience will pick up on it. It allows the audience to realize that all these two characters have is the hope that Godot will show up. Until the time when Godot arrives, all they can do is pass the time and wait. The first information we learn about the characters