Major Works Data Sheet Form PDF Details

The Major Works Data Sheet (MWDS) offers a comprehensive approach to analyzing literary works, breaking down various aspects for a deeper understanding of the material. By focusing on Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot," a play that effortlessly embodies the essence of the Theatre of the Absurd, the MWDS meticulously records biographical information about Beckett, highlighting his interactions with significant figures like James Joyce and detailing his journey from a lecturer at Trinity College to a Nobel Prize laureate. This precise form captures the essence of the absurdist genre through its historical context, set shortly after World War II and amidst the dawning Cold War tensions, thereby situating "Waiting for Godot" against the backdrop of a world recovering from chaos and staring down the barrel of nuclear unease. Characteristics of the genre are relayed, illustrating how the play deviates from traditional narratives by offering no clear plot, no concrete moral, and characters who exist in a state of purposeless limbo, thus inviting audiences to search for their own interpretations. The MWDS further delves into a plot summary, descriptions of characters, and thematic explorations, encapsulating the tragicomedy of human existence through the futile wait for the eponymous Godot. Explorations of the author’s style, memorable quotes, and integral symbols like the paradoxically lifeless yet life-affirming tree and the hats that signify civilization, offer insight into Beckett’s method of underscoring the mundane cyclical nature of life through absurdism. By concluding with possible themes and the significance of the opening and closing scenes, the MWDS for "Waiting for Godot" lays bare the existential quandaries that Beckett wrestles with, showcasing the play’s enduring relevance in the quest for meaning in a seemingly indifferent universe.

Form NameMajor Works Data Sheet Form
Form Length4 pages
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Avg. time to fill out1 min
Other namessenselessness, Estragons, Vladimirs, protagonists

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Malvika Kapoor

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AP English Literature and Composition

Major Works Data Sheet




Biographical information about the author:

Title: Waiting for Godot

Samuel Beckett was born in Foxrock, Ireland on April 13,


1906. He began to play music when he was six, and he

Author: Samuel Beckett

played sports as a youth. He also published articles in a

school newspaper. He received his B.A. from Trinity



College, where he met author James Joyce, who influenced

Date of Publication: 1952 (French) 1954 (English)

his life and his work. In 1930, he became a lecturer at Trinity

College, but he resigned at the end of 1931 and began to



write. Beckett joined the French Resistance during the

Genre: Absurdist Play, “Tragicomedy”

German occupation. He began to write Waiting for Godot


after the war. In 1969, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.


He continued writing for the rest of his life. His last work, the


Historical information about the period of publication:

poem “What is the Word,” was written in 1988, and he died in

Originally written few years after the end of World War II

1989 of respiratory problems.

and the Holocaust.



There was the recent development and use of the atom

Characteristics of the genre:

bomb during World War II. Also, there was the

Absurdist theatre abandons focuses on the senselessness of

development of the more powerful hydrogen bomb.

the human condition. It often lacks a plot, and it does not

Written soon after the beginning of the Cold War.

have a moral or a message, leaving the audience to find their



own meanings. The occurrences are not logical. Characters


lack a sense of purpose. Absurdist plays are often humorous.



Plot Summary:

The play opens with Estragon sitting on a low mound, trying to remove his boot. Vladimir shows up, and the two begin to talk. The two are homeless and well acquainted. They are waiting for Godot, though Estragon thinks that they waited for Godot the day before. The two later realize that they are unsure of the appointed day, the current day, the past, and whether the man’s name is Godot. Vladimir repeatedly decides that there is “nothing to be done.” Unsure what to do, Estragon tries to tell a dream, and Vladimir objects. They consider hanging themselves on a nearby tree, but they decide not to. Vladimir gives Estragon a carrot, after handing him a turnip. Pozzo and Lucky appear. Pozzo is drives Lucky with a rope and a whip and calls him “pig.” Pozzo eats chicken, and Estragon claims the bones from Lucky. Estragon and Vladimir ask to see Lucky dance, and he does so. Then they ask to hear him think, and Pozzo tells them to give Lucky his hat. When they do, he enters into a long, absurd monologue and the other three suffer. They take his hat, and Lucky falls. Eventually he recovers, and Pozzo and Lucky leave. A boy appears, and says that Mr. Godot will come the next day. Estragon leaves his boots on the ground. The two decide to leave, but they do not move.

The next day, at the same time and place, Vladimir is singing when Estragon appears. They continue to wait for Godot. Estragon has forgotten almost everything from the previous day, and from his own past. They banter for a while, and then Vladimir notices that the nearby tree is now covered with leaves. Estragon wants a carrot, but he decides not to get one. Estragon tries on the boots that have replaced his own. They fit fairly well. They find Lucky’s hat and exchange hats for a while. Vladimir ends up with Lucky’s hat, while Estragon ends up with his own hat. Vladimir suggests that they play Lucky and Pozzo, but it ends quickly. Estragon panics and thinks that they are surrounded. They perform some poses to relax. Pozzo and Lucky appear, but Pozzo is blind. Lucky and Pozzo fall. Pozzo calls for help and offers to pay the two, and Vladimir tries to help him and falls. Estragon tries to help Vladimir, and he falls. Eventually, the two get up. They discuss Pozzo’s blindness with Pozzo. It seems to have occurred in the night. In addition, Lucky is dumb now. Lucky and Pozzo leave. A boy appears. He and Vladimir have the same conversation, but the boy seems to have forgotten that he ever saw Vladimir. They think about hanging themselves. The two decide to leave, but they do not move.

Describe the author’s style:


An example that demonstrates the style:

Samuel Beckett uses many aspects of the Theater of

“Pozzo: The tears of the world are a constant

the Absurd, discarding traditional plot, characters, and

quantity. For each one who begins to weep,

actions to create a play with many different

somewhere else another stops. The same is true of

interpretations. Beckett uses simple diction, but the

the laugh. (He laughs.) Let us not then speak ill of

characters often divulge into meaningless


our generation, it is not any unhappier than its

conversations. His style is marked by repetition of

predecessors. (Pause.) Let us not speak well of it

such phrases, which he uses to emphasize the

either. (Pause.) Let us not speak of it at all.” (Act I)

tediousness of the characters’ lives. The characters’


conversations almost seem philosophical, but are not


logical, creating a “sense of senselessness of the


human condition” which characterizes the play.




Memorable Quotes












“Estragon: Nothing to be done.


Although here Estragon is referring to his boots, this quote

Vladimir: I'm beginning to come round


represents the hopelessness in the main characters mundane and

to that opinion.” (Act I)


repetitive lives, and their struggle to pass the time as they wait for



the mysterious Godot.

“Vladimir: We met yesterday. (Silence)


The forgetfulness of characters of time, objects, and each other,

Do you not remember?


promotes a nihilistic view, where the characters are unsure of their

Pozzo: I don't remember having met


existence. Vladimir is the only character that retains his memory

anyone yesterday. But to-morrow I


throughout the play, but he often questions the validity of his

won't remember having met anyone to-




day. So don't count on me to enlighten




you.” (Act II)




“Vladimir: Let us not waste our time in


This quote characterizes Vladimir as the most philosophical and

idle discourse! (Pause. Vehemently.)


least materialistic of all the character in the play. It also reflects

Let us do something while we have the


Beckett’s theme of hope because Beckett calls for people to grasp

chance! It is not every day that we are


hope by their actions, and seize the opportunities presented to them.

needed. Not indeed that we personally




are needed. Others would meet the case




equally well, if not better. To all




mankind they were addressed, those




cries for help still ringing in our ears!




But at this place, at this moment of




time, all mankind is us, whether we like




it or not. Let us make the most of it,




before it is too late! Let us represent




worthily for once the foul brood to




which a cruel fate consigned us!” (Act








Major Works Data Sheet


Page 3






Role in the story







Vladimir (Didi or Mr.

One of two main

Vladimir is the paternal figure in the play. He is

Responsible, cautious,



responsible and wary, and interestingly, stands through

remembering, restless, thoughtful

most of the play, whereas his partner, Estragon, sits.


masculine protagonist



Vladimir, the logical individual, is often restless and







preoccupies himself with religious or philosophical




matters. While Estragon’s pain is physical hurt,




Vladimir’s is mental anguish. He suffers every day in the




same situation, which is magnified because he is the only




character who remembers the past. He is the most




“normal” of the characters in the play.






Estragon (Gogo)

One of two main

Estragon is the infantile figure in the play. Always

Weak, helpless, forgetting


protagonists; feminine

seeking Vladimir’s protection, e is weak, helpless, and



whiny throughout. No figment of higher reasoning crosses






Estragon; he preoccupies himself everyday with mundane







thoughts: what he can eat or how to ease his physical




pain. Like the other characters, Estragon, possibly




suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, forgets what




happened every day. His amnesia might symbolize the




futility of time and life.







Rich gentleman who

Pozzo occasionally passes the spot where Vladimir and

Brutal, pompous, self-righteous,


owns a servant

Estragon wait every day. He provides a diversion every



day for Vladimir and Estragon. Pozzo treats his servant,






Lucky, very harshly, but their relationship is complex.




There are hints that their relationship was better in the




past. The dynamics between Pozzo and Lucky could be an




extreme exaggeration of that between Vladimir and




Estragon. Like Didi and Gogo, Pozzo and Lucky are




bound by decades of intimacy. In the first act, Pozzo is




functional, but in the second act, he is blind and does not




remember meeting Validmir and Estragon the night




before. However, his poor memory may be more of a




result of self-absorption and deep insecurity.



Pozzo’s old, worn

Lucky carries Pozzo’s bags and stool. In the first act,

Servile, stupid, stubborn, slow,



Lucky sings and dances, But in the second act, he strikes



dumb. He spews into a monologue during which his voice






increasingly trembles until he can no longer speak without




shaking. Such is a possible symptom of Parkinson’s




disease, which Beckett’s mother had. It is evident that in




the past, Lucky had more influence in his relationship




with his master. He even thought in order to fill the vacant




need of Pozzo. Although Lucky was intellectually




superior to Pozzo, he is now an object of contempt, but is




nevertheless faithful. When Pozzon falls, he does not run




away, but instead helps his master.







Young lad, goat herder

At the end of each act, the boy informs Vladimir that

Shy, wary, ingenuous, simple



Godot will not be coming that night. He too forgets the




previous day and insists that he was not there previously.




The boy has a brother who is a shepherd and whom Godot




beats. The boy plays the role of a messenger in the story,




or to those who take the Christian perspective, he plays




the role of an angel.



Man for whom

Above all, Godot is mysterious. His identity has been

Mysterious, dilatory, reluctant


Valdimir and Estragon

subject to much debate. Those who see the play as a



wait indefinitely

religious allusion assert that Godot is God, an accusation



Beckett denies. In the story of the two thieves crucified







with Jesus, only one was saved, just as only one of the




boys working for Godot is safe from beatings and only




one of Estragon’s feet was saved. Perhaps if Godot came,




either Vladimir or Estragon would have to suffer; only




one would be saved. Then it might be better if Godot




never came.


Major Works Data Sheet

Page 4


Significance of the opening scene



The setting of “Waiting for Godot” is a non-descript

Vladimir and Estragon immediately establish the hopelessness

plain. The only object that is detailed is a dead tree

of their situation with the statement “Nothing to be done.”

However, they also express joy at their reunion, implying the

(which mysteriously grows leaves the next morning).

passage of time and joy in the present. Thus, Beckett


In their discussion, Vladimir and Estragon mention a

introduces the essential paradox of living: the reality of

ditch that Estragon hides out in. Presumably then, the

bleakness paired with the feeling of expectation. Estragon’s

landscape is made of some rolling hills. The barren

struggle with the boot is a foreshadowing of the conflict to

come, one that the reader will ultimately face. The boot joins

emptiness of the setting echoes the emptiness of the

the human to the earth and the anticipation to the facts. While

duo’s existence. Vladimir and Estragon endlessly wait

Estragon continues in ignorance, the reader will ultimately

for Godot, a representation of God. In that sense, they

have to question his or her conception of life and try to

are in purgatory. The setting is perfectly neutral, an

reconcile existence with misery.


absolute equilibrium between heaven and hell. In this

Significance of the ending/closing scene

stillness, Vladimir and Estragon live and wait. The only


The ending scene directly parallels the opening scene. Once again,

sign of civilization is the road on which Pozzo and

Estragon and Vladimir meet in a field, and once again, they try to

Lucky enter, suggesting that life is a journey.

hang themselves out of boredom. They decide to try and hang

themselves, but like the day before, they fail. The similarities between



the first and second act underscore the repetitive nature of Vladimir


and Estragon’s existence. While suicide would serve as an escape



from the cycle, the duo is unable to complete the act, suggesting that

they will never leave. Interestingly, Estragon completely forgets the



events of the day before, leaving Vladimir to question his own shaky

The tree (dead in Act I but thriving in Act II) represents the omnipotence

memory. Even the Boy, repeating the same directives, seems to have

of nature. Although Vladimir and Estragon remain trapped in the same

forgotten his and Vladimir’s last meeting. Vladimir is determined to

events, the tree grows. While humans with their supposed “free will”

make the boy remember his existence, indicating the depths of

repeat the same day, the tree has the capacity to change.

Vladimir’s fear. More than anything else, he fears being forgotten, but

The hats that Pozzo, Lucky, Vladmir, and Estragon pass around represent

Estragon’s amnesia hints that Vladimir’s fears are realized with the

civilization, the distinction between animals and humans. When Pozzo,

dawn of each new day. In the very last lines, Vladimir and Estragon

Estragon, and Vladimir exchange hats, no change occurs. When Lucky is

agree to leave and to metaphorically break the cycle. Instead, they

given a hat, however, he is suddenly capable of speech and thought.

stand motionless, and the cycle continues.

Lucky’s speech is a sad reminder that most of human “thought” is


actually stolen snippets of others’ ideas. Although the diction is high, the

Old AP Questions

syntax of Lucky’s speech is jumbled and nonsensical. He speaks but does


not communicate. Like the rest of existence, he makes no sense.


Godot is also a symbol for purpose and meaning. Whenever he appears,


he will give direction to Pozzo and Lucky. However, Godot’s absence


demonstrates the meaningless of life.




Possible Themes

To apply reason to life is to try to impose a square on a circle; life has no meaning.

Humans are oblivious to the patterns of their existence.

Life is a series of endless repetitions.