Waiting for Godot: Character Studies by Paul Lawley

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By Paul Lawley

This e-book presents an introductory learn of Beckett'smost recognized play, dealing not only with the 4 maincharacters yet with the pairings that they shape, andthe implications of those pairings for the very notion ofcharacter within the play. After finding Godot inside of thecontext of Beckett's paintings, Lawley discusses a few ofthe play's puzzles and difficulties-including theabsent "fifth character", Godot himself.

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Example text

We, the audience, of course stick with Vladimir. It is worth pointing out that, in the midst of these disorientating exchanges, references to time which make its passage seem normal, and which are not afflicted by more-than-normal uncertainty, have a telling emotional effect. Long-term memory is the less problematic kind in this play. When night has fallen and the moon is up, Estragon harks back many years, and the effect is extraordinarily intimate: ESTRAGON: How long have we been together all the time now?

In other words, the two acts of the play take their imagined place within a virtual sequence of waitings which has no reason to be anything other than infinite. The Act II efforts at remembering make us conscious that, in their terrible void of waiting, the necessity of Vladimir and Estragon is for material to talk about, to blather with: ‘Yes, now I remember, yesterday evening we spent blathering about nothing in particular’. In this sense there is a strange reversal of priority: for the men, Act I is important because it provides material for 42 PUZZLES AND DIFFICULTIES passing the time in Act II.

The extensive notes and full scholarly apparatus by Dougald McMillan and James Knowlson make this volume an indispensable scholarly resource (though, at the time of writing, it is very expensive and not easy to obtain). Yet it is hard to feel that this edition finally resolves the textual problem surrounding Waiting for Godot. It may even add another dimension to that problem. The revised text is based not only on Beckett’s Schiller-Theater production but on the ‘two English-language adaptations’ (McMillan and Knowlson 1993, p.

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