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SHORT PLOT SUMMARY (Synopsis)
Two tramps named Estragon and Vladimir meet on the road, beside a tree. They are very happy to see each other, having been separated for an unspecified amount of time. Estragon has a sore foot and is having trouble taking his boot off. He tells Vladimir that he was beaten the previous evening.
The two men remember that they are supposed to wait under a tree on a Saturday for a man named Godot. It appears they do not remember the man named Godot very well, but they think he was going to give them an answer. They cannot remember the question. While they are waiting, Estragon falls asleep. Vladimir, suddenly feeling lonely, wakes Estragon. Tired of doing nothing, they begin talking about the tree and the wait, then settle on discussing their sorry condition. They are homeless and penniless, traveling from one place to another. They contemplate suicide by hanging. They nibble carrots and turnips for food. Most of the time, they simply wait for Godot.
After a while, Pozzo and Lucky join them. Lucky carries a heavy bag and is led by his master, Pozzo, with a rope. Pozzo sits on a stool, relaxes a little and enjoys some chicken and wine. He is abusive to his servant by demanding things and being rude. Eventually Lucky dozes off to sleep, but is awakened by jerks on the rope from his master.
A hungry Estragon is eager to gnaw the chicken bones thrown on the ground by Pozzo. Pozzo explains that he has long desired that his slave would go away, but he never does. The master tells the tramps that Lucky is pitiful and old, and he would like to get rid of him soon. On hearing all this, Lucky cries. Estragon tries to comfort him, but is rewarded by a hard kick in the leg from Lucky. At this point, Pozzo instructs his slave to dance and think and otherwise amuse the tramps. Lucky's entertainment consists of dancing, which is more like an awkward shuffling motion, and thinking, which is a long and jumbled exercise in rambling. To shut him up, Vladimir takes away his hat. Eventually, the master and slave leave the tramps, and they continue their wait for Godot.
A little later, a young bog brings in a message that Godot might see them the next day, at the same hour and at the same place. Meanwhile, night falls and the tramps decide to leave and come back the next day. Instead, they remain. The act ends.
The next act begins in exactly the same fashion: the two tramps meet on the road after a separation. Nothing has changed except that the bare tree has sprouted five or six leaves. Vladimir is singing a song about a dog that has been beaten. Estragon reveals that he has been beaten as well, again. They resume their wait, though Estragon seems to have forgotten the events of the day before. Vladimir tries to remind him of his wounded leg and the unruly slave who kicked him. Estragon's only memory is a vague one about the bone he was given to chew.
Bored with waiting, Vladimir spots Lucky's hat, and the tramps begin playing with it. For sometime, they initiate Pozzo and his slave. Still bored, they discuss suicide again, call each other names, and wait for Godot. After some time, Pozzo and Lucky re- appear. This time, however, Pozzo is blind and being led by Lucky. They are still bound by a rope, though this one is even shorter. Pozzo falls to the ground and cannot get up. In the process of helping him, Estragon and Vladimir also fall to the ground. The scene deteriorates into a burlesque, with characters trying to get up but only managing to become even more entangled. Finally they are able to get up. Pozzo claims never to have met them before and shocks them by claiming that Lucky is mute. He becomes insulted and departs, stumbling away with Lucky.
The sun sets and the moon rises. A messenger boy enters, claiming not to be the same boy as from the day before. His message, however, is the same. Godot will not come today, but will try to come tomorrow. He leaves and the two men again contemplate suicide. This time, they actually attempt it, but the suspender cords they try to use breaks and Estragon ends up with his pants around his ankles. They decide to come back the next day with a rope, and if Godot does not arrive, they will hang themselves. They decide to move on, but as in the previous act, they stay where they are and the act ends.
The play opens on a totally surreal note, with a tramp trying to pull off his boot on a lonely road under a leafless tree. There is no horizon, no sign of civilization. For a moment, this scene might even be considered comic. Eventually, however, the action unfolds and a mood of despair and futility settles over the stage. The surreal feeling never changes, it is merely added to by a host of other feelings. Characters are beaten, cursed, wounded-all without any sign of relief. The few moments of comedy are dampened by an overwhelming sense of tragedy and gloom. In the end, the eternal hopelessness of life permeates every aspect of both acts of the play.