The Relationship Between Pozzo and Lucky
The debate about the relationship of the two characters Pozzo and Lucky has existed since the original performance of Waiting for Godot and has failed, much like the rest of the play, to suggest any kind of concrete conclusion. The name “Lucky” comes from Beckett’s reasoning that this character is “lucky” not to have any further expectations, reiterating the nihilism that comes with the play. The relationship between Lucky and Pozzo is, on the surface (if anything with Beckett can be on the surface), a fairly cut and dry “master/servant” relationship. Lucky is treated unforgivingly by Pozzo. Often depicted as an old man, Lucky is forced to carry Pozzo’s baggage, is not permitted to rest, and is connected to him by a rope (or leash). He obediently does the majority of what Pozzo wishes, and a large portion of Pozzo’s dialogue is dedicated to giving Lucky various instructions (“Stop! Forward! Back!”). Regardless of the abuse that Lucky faces, he remains totally subservient to Pozzo, and seems distraught when Pozzo mentions wanting to get rid of him (“ I am bringing him to the fair, where I hope to get a good price for him”).
Lucky is the first to enter the scene, with a very long rope around his neck and Pozzo at the other end of it. This arrangement is potentially supposed to be very comical; however, it is also interesting that the “slave” character is the one who is leading the “master” and not the other way around. It has been suggested by critics that the relationship between Pozzo and Lucky may not be as clear cut as first assumed, and in fact could even be seen as an exaggeration of the relationship between Vladimir and Estragon. On closer examination, many viewers and scholars have come to the conclusion that despite the blatantly submissive nature of Lucky, he actually posses the most power in the relationship. When he is ordered to dance (“He refused once. Dance misery!”), when he is ordered to think (“Think, pig!”) he does so, not as a result of servitude to Pozzo, but rather to “ fill a vacant need of Pozzo: he committed all of these acts for Pozzo”. When viewed in this way, we can see that Pozzo is actually the most insecure of the characters, and is a slave to the demands that he makes of Lucky, therefore making him the one with the least power. Lucky’s “Think-speech” gives us an uncompromising view of the way Lucky’s mind works, desperately grabbing for some form of pure truth, and always ever so slightly missing it, it is a caricature of the deteriorating intellect that comes with age. It is a contrast to Pozzo’s “sky-speech” which is borderline pretentious, and seems to be Pozzo attempting to find any fabricated or substandard meaning he can. Pozzo attempts to dominate Lucky and prevent his “think-speech” once it has started, but we see yet again his failure in sovereignty, as he cannot stop Lucky from speaking, no matter what he does, Lucky’s thirst for truth prevails. This aspect of the play recalls the work of Jacques Lacan, the French philosopher, who could mark this as Pozzo’s realisation that “the truth can only come out of the mouth of a slave.” Pozzo gives Lucky the credit of being his cultural adviser, and of having taught him the ability to “reason.” Pozzo’s obsession with the cosmos and reason is potentially a nod to other western philosophers Plato and Aristotle, who have both famously argued that the ability to reason is the true meaning of our souls, and perhaps the only thing that separates us from animals. After Pozzo’s major monologue about the sky and its wonders, we see his memory fade, and he relies, yet again, on Lucky (“That’s how it is on this bitch of an earth”).
Pozzo has been widely considered as the “antagonist” of the play, in a slightly unconventional use of the term, as he does not exist in opposition of Vladimir and Estragon, yet does bring turmoil into their veiled lives. He portrays himself as very grandiose, as an aristocrat, explaining how he lives in a “manor” and he “owns many slaves.” Yet he wears the same type of bowler hat as Estragon and Vladimir, and a similar tattered suit. Pozzo is portrayed as an unforgiving master to Lucky, but as has been previously discussed, it seems that he is more at the mercy of Lucky’s temperament than the other way around. He explains to Vladimir and Estragon that he is mistreated by Lucky and feels exploited by him. An interesting theory involves the comparison of Pozzo to Godot, or even to God. Pozzo could certainly be seen as a God in the relationship between himself and Lucky, but if so, then he is an imperfect God. If a deity is what Beckett was trying to make out of Pozzo, then such a setup raises the very interesting question of “what does Lucky represent?” Potentially, God and man have melded, to make one totally dependent on the other. Man is dependent on God for instructions, and God dependent on Man for gratification. Of course, all of this is speculation, as very little is known about the true meaning behind the characters. There are really only two certainties that we know external to the play, from Beckett’s commentary: 1) All the characters (except for the boy) wear bowler hats. 2) Godot is not God. Beckett, it seems, was not a fan of the ongoing theories about his work. He criticized the critics for making “something rather simple, rather complicated.” Perhaps there isn’t, and was never meant to be, a metaphor behind the absurd relationship between Pozzo and Lucky; they existed only within the confines of the script that they were written into, and were nothing more than that, written characters. The point being, there is no point; that’s the point.
Many actors have attempted to create full-fledged, three-dimensional characters from the very little and very confusing information Beckett has provided us with in Waiting for Godot. It is unknown whether Beckett himself had created fully complicated characters, and was simply neglecting to share the information with us, or whether he had preferred to leave the characters up to the interpretation of the actors. For instance, Jean Martin attempted to play the character of Lucky as having Parkinson’s disease. When Martin told Beckett, the playwright approved, stating simply “Yes, of course you should” and briefly mentioned that his mother had also been a sufferer. Perhaps this is the only evidence that there was a greater idea behind Beckett’s masterpiece, that the characters were conceived and tangible, and did not only exist as mere items of Beckett’s whimsy.
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The debate about the relationship of the two characters Pozzo and Lucky has existed since the original performance of Waiting for Godot and has failed, much like the rest of […]