Images and Metaphors in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot
Interpersonal relationships in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot are extremely important, because the interaction of the dynamic characters, as they try to satiate one another's boredom, is the basis for the play. Vladimir's and Estragon's interactions with Godot, which should also be seen as an interpersonal relationship among dynamic characters, forms the basis for the tale's major themes. Interpersonal relationships, including those involving Godot, are generally couched in rope images, specifically as nooses and leashes. These metaphors at times are visible and invisible, involve people as well as inanimate objects, and connect the dead with the living. Only an appreciation of these complicated rope images will provide a truly complete reading of Beckett's Godot and his God, because they punctuate Beckett's voice in this play better than do any of the individual characters.
The only rope that appears literally is the leash around Lucky's neck that Pozzo holds. This pair of characters appears separated by a rope that is half the width of the stage. In terms of the rope, the relationship between these characters is one of consistent domination. The stage directions say that "Pozzo drives Lucky by means of a rope passed round his neck." [p15] Lucky is whipped often. He is essentially the horse pulling Pozzo's carriage in a relationship that seems cruel, domineering, and undesirable, and yet Lucky is strangely sycophantic. In explaining Lucky's behavior, Pozzo says,
Why he doesn't make himself comfortable? Let's try and get this clear. Has he not the right to? Certainly he has. It follows that he doesn't want to...He imagines that when I see how well he carries I'll be tempted to keep him on in that capacity...As though I were short of slaves. [p21]
Despite his miserable condition, Lucky does not seem to desire change. Perhaps he is happy. Or perhaps he is not miserable enough. Or perhaps he has no sense of the world beyond his present situation; perhaps, as Vladimir and Estragon, he cannot envision himself any differently.
The relationship between Pozzo and Lucky does not, however, stagnate at this juncture. The very next day, when the two next appear, the rope between them is significantly shorter so that the now-blind Pozzo may find his way. In this new situation, it is less clear which character leads the other, or if either one is truly in control. As the stage directions read,
Pozzo is blind...Rope as before, but much shorter, so that Pozzo may follow more easily. [p49.5]
For the first time in the text, Pozzo is dependent on Lucky for direction; Lucky is dependent on Pozzo for the same reason, though this relationship is one of emotional, rather than physical, dependence. The shortness of the rope, necessary because of Pozzo's blindness, affects their relationship; their new-found closeness makes it difficult for Pozzo to dominate and...