Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (1949) is a play composed of two acts in which nothing happens.
Its sophistication lies not in the plot, however, as it doesn’t have any. It is rather the lack of plot which makes the play so compelling. Two characters wait for a person named Godot, and they are not sure whether Godot will ever come.
The very first spoken words are quite encompassing:
ESTRAGON: Nothing to be done.
VLADIMIR: I’m beginning to come round to that opinion.
These opening lines sum up the entire plot, as if the title didn’t already.
The play is very humorous nearly all the time:
VLADIMIR: You should have been a poet.
ESTRAGON: I was. (Gesture towards his rags.) Isn’t that obvious?
I read this last year (in class), so I don’t remember most of the nuances. The thing I remember most is the tree, which grows a few leaves between the two acts. It is otherwise barren. This epitomizes the nothingness of the story and the futility of change—or continuity.
Astute followers of this blog may have noticed a Random blurb on the right-hand column on Waiting for Godot. It has been here for a long time because this play was the thing that changed for the better my views on literature. As such, it receives from me much appreciation.
Better late than Godot.
I thought of this phrase as a more indirect and possibly more humorous way to say “Better late than never.” And I googled “Better late than Godot” in quotations and found zero hits, so yes, I’ll be taking credit for this. 😛