(giving up again). Nothing to be done.
(advancing with short, stiff strides, legs wide apart). I'm beginning to come round
to that opinion. All my life I've tried to put it from me, saying Vladimir, be
reasonable, you haven't yet tried everything. And I resumed the struggle. (He
broods, musing on the struggle. Turning to Estragon.) So there you are again.
I'm glad to see you back. I thought you were gone forever.
Together again at last! We'll have to celebrate this. But how? (He reflects.) Get up till I embrace
(irritably). Not now, not now.
(hurt, coldly). May one inquire where His Highness spent the night?
NOTHING TO BE DONE. THE PLAY OPENS WITH THE CENTRAL
QUESTION: "WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN BEING AND
DOING"? With the bare stage except for the tree, and the country road hat begins
we don't know where and goes we don't know where, we can see that Beckett is
stripping away all the usual compensations and distractions that shield us from this
question. Increasingly in the the Twentieth century, the question of "being" is
ignored in favor of the apparent satisfaction of "doing". dong permits accumulation
and the experience of pleasure and the hope of satisfaction, so it is a much more
attractive STATE of being than simply being aware of one's being. BUT it is only
one aspect of being. we have to "be" in order to "do", but "doing" is only one
aspect of "being". What makes us aware of this is : WAITING. Waiting is an
awareness of being brought on by an absence of doing. Estragon seems stuck in a
perpetual, suspended state of BEING, while vladamir restlessly keeps trying to
convert his anxiety about being into some kind of doing. So when E. says "nothing
to be done", V. agrees--briefly--and then, as we will see throughout the play, he
busies himself with "coming round to that opinion". For E It is not an "opinion" but
a simple statement of the facts. No matter what you do IN life, there is nothing to
do ABOUT it--We are born, we live, we die. all the rest is speculation.
(feebly). Help me!
VLADIMIR: It hurts?
(angrily). Hurts! He wants to know if it hurts!
(angrily). No one ever suffers but you. I don't count. I'd like to hear what you'd say
if you had what I have.
(angrily). Hurts! He wants to know if it hurts!
(pointing). You might button it all the same.
(stooping). True. (He buttons his fly.) Never neglect the little things of life.
What do you expect, you always wait till the last moment.
Here we have two sorts of pain. E's foot has swelled and is hurting inside his boot; V. would
appear to have some urinary tract discomfort "what do you expect? you always wait 'til the last
minute"). So an external ailment (sore foot in a boot) and an internal ailment. Of course, V. uses
the occasion to be sort of reminded of a quotation of someone else. but he remembers it so
imperfectly it is hard to know what it meant, why he has thought of it, or how it is supposed to
make any sense to E
(musingly). The last moment . . . (He meditates.) Hope deferred maketh the
something sick, who said that?
Why don't you help me?
Sometimes I feel it coming all the same. Then I go all queer. (He takes off his hat,
peers inside it, feels about inside it, shakes it, puts it on again.) How shall I say?
Relieved and at the same time . . . (he searches for the word) . . . appalled. (With
emphasis.) AP-PALLED. (He takes off his hat again, peers inside it.) Funny. (He
knocks on the crown as though to dislodge a foreign body, peers into it again, puts
it on again.) Nothing to be done. (Estragon with a supreme effort succeeds in
pulling off his boot. He peers inside it, feels about inside it, turns it upside down,
shakes it, looks on the ground to see if anything has fallen out, finds nothing, feels
inside it again, staring sightlessly before him.) Well?
There's nothing to show. VLADIMIR:
Try and put it on again.
(examining his foot). I'll air it for a bit.
There's man all over for you, blaming on his boots the faults of his feet.
Again we see V's delight in language, while for E language is , at best, to convey information. He
gets the boot off and looks inside to see if there is something there that might explain why the boot
was hurting his foot. Just as there is nothing to be done, there is nothing to be seen. When V says
There's man all over for you, blaming on his boots the faults of his feet., a second them of the play
is sounded: man blaming his existential pain on his various philosophies of life, rather than
questioning how he lives his life--blaming the problems of his life on his god, or the devil, or
"fate", all the "boots" into which we first fit our life to protect ourselves, and then blame for
causing our life/feet to hurt.
but this thought disturbs V--"This is getting alarming", so he goes to the story of salvation for
those who repent as it is represented in the new Testament, where Christ, the Son of God, is
crucified and dies for us, thus redeeming us from our sins which otherwise would have damned us:
This is getting alarming. (Silence. Vladimir deep in thought, Estragon pulling at his
toes.) One of the thieves was saved. (Pause.) It's a reasonable percentage. (Pause.)
Suppose we repented.
Oh . . . (He reflects.) We wouldn't have to go into the details.
Our being born?
Vladimir breaks into a hearty laugh which he immediately stifles, his hand pressed
to his pubis, his face contorted.
One daren't even laugh any more.
Merely smile. (He smiles suddenly from ear to ear, keeps smiling, ceases as
suddenly.) It's not the same thing. Nothing to be done. (Pause.) Gogo.
(irritably). What is it?
Did you ever read the Bible? ESTRAGON:
The Bible . . . (He reflects.) I must have taken a look at it.
Do you remember the Gospels?
I remember the maps of the Holy Land. Coloured they were. Very pretty. The Dead
Sea was pale blue. The very look of it made me thirsty. That's where we'll go, I
used to say, that's where we'll go for our honeymoon. We'll swim. We'll be happy.
You should have been a poet.
I was. (Gesture towards his rags.) Isn't that obvious?
E. doesn't remember the bible as a Holy book or a system of belief, but as a book with pictures and
a vague thought of getting married and honeymooning there and going swimming and being
happy. In other words, V has theological connections to the story, and E only physical ones.
Heaven and Hell are theological concepts, but they are based on bodily pleasure (heaven) and pain
V. goes on to try and explain the story. What bothers him at the outset is that there are several
versions of the story, though ony one is remembered on this point:
Ah yes, the two thieves. Do you remember the story?
Shall I tell it to you?
It'll pass the time. (Pause.) Two thieves, crucified at the same time as our Saviour.
Our Saviour. Two thieves. One is supposed to have been saved and the other . . .
(he searches for the contrary of saved) . . . damned.
Saved from what?