Life is occupied by waiting. In Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett presents the suffering of the human condition; the two characters exemplify this condition of suffering through the juxtaposition of inaction and complaining. The term ‘waiting’ definitely well describes the nature of this play, taking part in every component of the play. In the play, the characters work collectively as a mind of their own in proceeding to contradict yet balance out one another’s actions as the course of the play goes on. Waiting for Godot is a mere interpretation of Sigmund Freud’s ideology of the mind.
Role of Estragon: Go-go is the ego in the play according to University Distinguished Professor Bernard Dukore but rather than being a complete mediate between the id and superego (The contrasts which make up the ego), he has more of a superego approach, yet Estragon is still fulfilling his role as the ego. “The rational Go-go embodies the incomplete ego, the missing pleasure principle: (e)go-(e)go.” stated Bernard Dukore when talking about his thoughts on the Freudian interpretation of ego in the play Waiting for Godot. A quote from the play that perfectly illustrates Gogo’s circumstances in the play according to Dukore is the dialogue below. (Beckett, 10)
Estragon: I may be mistaken. Let’s stop talking for a minute, do you mind?
Vladimir: All right. Gogo! . . . Gogo! . . . GOGO!
Estragon: I was asleep! Why will you never let me sleep?
Vladimir: I felt lonely.
While telling Vladimir what to do, he also asks in such a way that would satisfy him, reconciling the situation as the ego is supposed to do. Dukore made a valid argument with this statement.
Role of Vladimir: “Di-di (id-id) – who is more instinctual and irrational – is seen as the backward id or subversion of the rational principle.” also said Dukore when speaking of the role of the id in the play. In the play Di-di fully possesses the id according to Dukore; the id has almost no impact on the ego in his psychoanalytical depiction of Waiting for Godot. Although I disagree with this statement, it’s not always Di-di who gives the impression of being the character acting as the id in this play. Here’s an example of Freudian description of the psyche changing in Waiting for Godot (Beckett, 12).
Estragon: What about hanging ourselves?
Vladimir: Hmm. It'd give us an erection.
Estragon: (highly excited). An erection!
Vladimir: With all that follows. Where it falls mandrakes grow. That's why they shriek when you pull them up. Did you not know that?
Estragon: Let's hang ourselves immediately!
Estragon seems to be fulfilling the role of the id in this passage above; instead of Vladimir who Dukore had already stated was the id in the play. He is seeking immediate gratification from hanging himself, which goes according to the pleasure principle in Freud’s philosophy of the id.
One thing in the play is obvious, Godot is the superego. He has the two characters, Estragon and Vladimir, chagrined by the very thought of him. The two return to the same spot multiple days and wait for Godot to come, as they do all the way through the entire book. Godot keeps the characters in check throughout the book. The prime objective for the superego according to Freud is to “keep the id in check”.
In the book it has been noted that either Estragon or Vladimir could say each other’s lines and the play would still make sense. At the end of Act I the final lines are:
Estragon: Well, Shall we go?
Vladimir: Yes, let’s go.
The exact same lines read above are at the end of Act II. Yet the characters saying the lines have switched, almost as if the characters in the play have switched roles in between the first and second acts. These characters feed off of each other’s actions and need one another to survive; this statement can be replay into the fact that there is not a set ego or a set id in the play. Estragon and Vladimir fill these roles as a group in Waiting for Godot instead of as separate characters; this contradicts what Bernard Dukore had previously stated about the role of Estragon in the play.
In conclusion, the Freudian ideology of id, superego and ego all correspond to the functions of the mind; these aspects can all be comparative to the mindset of the characters in Beckett’s novel. Thus bringing the characters in Waiting for Godot together, all being part of one psyche.