Waiting for Godot

Act 1

Version Française

In Waiting for Godot, two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, vainly wait for Godot, someone they hardly know and who will never come. On each of the two days when the play takes place, a messenger comes and tells them that Godot won’t be coming that day, but surely will on the next day.

VLADIMIR:Pah!

He spits. Estragon moves to center, halts with his back to auditorium.

ESTRAGON:Charming spot. (He turns, advances to front, halts facing auditorium.) Inspiring prospects. (He turns to Vladimir.) Let’s go.

VLADIMIR:We can’t.

ESTRAGON:Why not?

VLADIMIR:We’re waiting for Godot.

ESTRAGON:(despairingly). Ah! (Pause.) You’re sure it was here?

VLADIMIR:What?

ESTRAGON:That we were to wait.

VLADIMIR:He said by the tree. (They look at the tree.) Do you see any others?

ESTRAGON:What is it?

VLADIMIR:I don’t know. A willow.

ESTRAGON:Where are the leaves?

VLADIMIR:  It must be dead.

ESTRAGON:No more weeping.

VLADIMIR:Or perhaps it’s not the season.

ESTRAGON:Looks to me more like a bush.

VLADIMIR:A shrub.

ESTRAGON:A bush.

VLADIMIR: A—. What are you insinuating? That we’ve come to the wrong place?

ESTRAGON:He should be here.

VLADIMIR:He didn’t say for sure he’d come.

ESTRAGON:And if he doesn’t come?

VLADIMIR:We’ll come back tomorrow.

ESTRAGON:And then the day after tomorrow.

VLADIMIR:Possibly.

ESTRAGON:And so on.

VLADIMIR:The point is—

ESTRAGON:Until he comes.

VLADIMIR:You’re merciless.

ESTRAGON:We came here yesterday.

VLADIMIR:Ah no, there you’re mistaken.

ESTRAGON:What did we do yesterday?

VLADIMIR:What did we do yesterday?

ESTRAGON:Yes.

VLADIMIR:Why . . . (Angrily.) Nothing is certain when you’re about.

ESTRAGON:In my opinion we were here.

VLADIMIR:(looking round). You recognize the place?

ESTRAGON:I didn’t say that.

VLADIMIR:Well?

ESTRAGON:That makes no difference.

VLADIMIR:All the same . . . that tree . . . (turning towards auditorium) that bog . . .

ESTRAGON:You’re sure it was this evening?

VLADIMIR:What?

ESTRAGON:That we were to wait.

VLADIMIR:He said Saturday. (Pause.) I think.

ESTRAGON:You think.

VLADIMIR:I must have made a note of it. (He fumbles in his pockets, bursting with miscellaneous rubbish.)

ESTRAGON:(very insidious). But what Saturday? And is it Saturday? Is it not rather Sunday? (Pause.) Or Monday? (Pause.) Or Friday?

VLADIMIR:

(looking wildly about him, as though the date was inscribed in the landscape). It’s not possible!

ESTRAGON:Or Thursday?

VLADIMIR:What’ll we do?

ESTRAGON:If he came yesterday and we weren’t here you may be sure he won’t come again today.

VLADIMIR:But you say we were here yesterday.

ESTRAGON:I may be mistaken. (Pause.) Let’s stop talking for a minute, do you mind?

VLADIMIR:(feebly). All right. (Estragon sits down on the mound. Vladimir paces agitatedly to and fro, halting from time to time to gaze into distance off. Estragon falls asleep. Vladimir halts finally before Estragon.) Gogo! . . . Gogo! . . . GOGO!

Estragon wakes with a start.

ESTRAGON:(restored to the horror of his situation). I was asleep! (Despairingly.) Why will you never let me sleep?

VLADIMIR:I felt lonely.

ESTRAGON:I had a dream.

VLADIMIR:Don’t tell me!

ESTRAGON:I dreamt that—

VLADIMIR:DON’T TELL ME!

ESTRAGON:(gesture toward the universe). This one is enough for you? (Silence.) It’s not nice of you, Didi. Who am I to tell my private nightmares to if I can’t tell them to you?

VLADIMIR:Let them remain private. You know I can’t bear that.

COMPREHENSION

1.The dialogue focuses on three main points in succession. What are they ?

2.Show the meaninglessness of the dialogue by giving examples of repetitions, absurd discussion, ready-made expressions, normally found in a more serious dialogue, assertions which are immediately contradicted…

3.Why is there such meaningless dialogue ?

4.Why are the stage directions so numerous compared to the dialogue ?

Samuel Beckett: A biography

SAMUEL BECKETT (1906-1989)

http://www.biography.com/people/samuel-beckett-9204239

Synopsis

Samuel Beckett was born on April 13, 1906, in Dublin, Ireland. During the 1930s and 1940s he wrote his first novels and short stories. He wrote a trilogy of novels in the 1950s as well as famous plays like Waiting for Godot. In 1969 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died on December 22, 1989 in Paris, France.

Early Life

Samuel Barclay Beckett was born on Good Friday, April 13, 1906, in Dublin, Ireland. His father, William Frank Beckett, worked in the construction business and his mother, Maria Jones Roe, was a nurse. Young Samuel attended Earlsfort House School in Dublin, then at 14, he went to Portora Royal School. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Trinity College in 1927. In his youth he would periodically experience severe depression keeping him in bed until mid-day. This experience would later influence his writing.

A Young Writer in Search of a Story

In 1928, Samuel Beckett found a welcome home in Paris where he met and became a devoted student of James Joyce. In 1931, he embarked on a restless sojourn through Britain, France and Germany. He wrote poems and stories and did odd jobs to support himself. On his journey, he came across many individuals who would inspire some of his most interesting characters.

In 1937, Samuel Beckett settled in Paris. Shortly thereafter, he was stabbed by a pimp after refusing his solicitations. While recovering in the hospital, he met Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnuil, a piano student in Paris. The two would become life-long companions and eventually marry.

Resistance Fighter in World War II

During World War II, Samuel Beckett’s Irish citizenship allowed him to remain in Paris as a citizen of a neutral country. He fought in the resistance movement until 1942 when members of his group were arrested by the Gestapo. He and Suzanne fled to the unoccupied zone until the end of the war.

After the war, Samuel Beckett was awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery during his time in the French resistance. He settled in Paris and began his most prolific period as a writer. In five years, he wrote  Waiting for Godot, Endgame, the novels Malloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable, andMercier et Camier, two books of short stories, and a book of criticism.

Success and Notoriety

Samuel Beckett’s first publication, Molloy, enjoyed modest sales, but more importantly praise from French critics. Soon, Waiting for Godot, achieved quick success at the small Theatre de Babylone putting Beckett in the international spotlight.

Samuel Beckett wrote in both French and English, but his most well-known works, written between WWII and the 1960s, were written in French. Early on he realized his writing had to be subjective and come from his own thoughts and experiences. Beckett’s plays are not written along traditional lines with conventional plot and time and place references. Instead, he focuses on essential elements of the human condition in dark humorous ways. This style of writing has been called “Theater of the Absurd” by Martin Esslin, The plays focus on human despair and the will to survive in a hopeless world that offers no help in understanding.

Later Years

The 1960s were a period of change for Samuel Beckett. He found great success with this plays across the world. Invitations came to attend rehearsals and performances which led to a career as a theater director. In 1961, he secretly married Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnuil who took care of his business affairs.

In 1969, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, though he declined accepting it personally to avoid making a speech at the ceremonies. However, he should not be considered a recluse. He often times met with other artists, scholars and admirers to talk about his work.

By the late 1980s, Samuel Beckett was in failing health and had moved to a small nursing home. Suzanne, his wife, had died in July 1989. He died on December 22, 1989, in a hospital of respiratory problems just months after his wife.