Waiting for Godot: Top Ten Quotes

“There’s nothing to be done.”P. 1 This, the opening sentence of the play, is uttered by Estragon who is having trouble with his boot. It sets a tone of despair that indeed there is nothing that can be done.

“People are bloody ignorant apes.”P. 4 Estragon makes this response to Vladimir’s statement that one of the thieves that was crucified next to Jesus was saved. Vladimir wonders why, if the Evangelists wrote four different accounts of Christ’s death, does only one mention the thief’s salvation. The passage occurs immediately before Godot is first mentioned and suggests that people are ignorant for believing in a god-like being that never appears.

“No use struggling…No use wriggling…The essential doesnt change.” P. 9 Estragon and Vladimir are, like all human beings, dependant upon each other.  They take turns soothing each other in an attempt to alleviate the overwhelming despair they feel in their long, long wait for Godot to appear.

“Yes, gentlemen, I cannot go for long without the society of my likes… even when the likeness is an imperfect one.” P. 11 Pozzo condescendingly tells Estragon and Vladimir that he would like to spend time with them even though they are not perfect.  Like all humans, Pozzo is lonely and seeks out the company of others even if they do not meet his standards.  However, Estragon and Vladimir view Pozzo as a diversion for their unceasing boredom. This illustrates Beckett’s theme of human dependence.

“The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep, somewhere else another stops…let us not then speak ill of our generation, it is not any unhappier than its predecessors.”P. 17 In this dark existential play Beckett would have us believe that humankind resides in a state of constant despair.  Life is meaningless. Try as we might to change our lot, we are helpless in an indifferent universe and frozen by inertia.

“After having sucked all the good out of him you chuck him away like a . . . like a banana skin.” P. 17 Pozzo has known Lucky for sixty years and has come to recognize that without him he wouldn’t have learned half of what he knows.  Yet, he is willing to sell him at a fair because he is no longer of use. Estragon is appalled by this and perhaps is fearful that one day Vladimir will also replace him.

“Pale for weariness…of climbing heaven and gazing on the likes of us.” P. 31 Estragon says this to Vladimir who contemplates the moon after the boy leaves with the message that Godot will not arrive but will appear tomorrow.  Not only is humankind weary of waiting, but even the universe itself is tired.  This, however, lessens the existentialist ideal that the universe is indifferent.

“Let us not waste our time in idle discourse!…Let us do something, while we have the chance! It is not every day that we are needed. Not indeed that we personally are needed. Others would meet the case equally well, if not better. To all mankind they were addressed, those cries for help still ringing in our ears! But at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not. Let us make the most of it, before it is too late!” P. 51 Inertia or immobility is a factor in Beckett’s vision of the desperate and discouraging human condition. Although Estragon and Vladimir seem not to remember the past, there remain indications that they do recall occasional events but are, despite their best efforts, simply incapable of change, and thus remain frozen instead. Vladimir however wants to change and cries out in an effort to help Pozzo, and metaphorically all of humankind.

“Astride of a grave and a difficult birth.  Down in the hole, lingeringly, the grave digger puts on the forceps. We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries… but habit is a great deadener.” P. 59 Here Beckett conflates the circularity of birth and death. Despite its best intentions, humankind ultimately is incapable of motion and consequently of change.  Continued inertia, in the form of habit, has left us frozen.

“Was I sleeping, while the others suffered? Am I sleeping now? Tomorrow, when I wake, or think I do, what shall I say of today? That with Estragon my friend, at this place, until the fall of night, I waited for Godot?” P. 59 For the last fifty years, Vladimir and Estragon have been waiting every evening at dusk for the arrival of Godot who never comes but sends a boy to tell them that he will surely come tomorrow. The admonition to wait for Godot, whom they have never seen, rules their entire life.  They constantly threaten to leave but are incapable of doing so because of the purpose of their life—to wait for Godot.