Waiting for Godot: Clear Criticism of Christianity
Samuel Beckett may have denied the use of Christian mythology in Waiting for Godot, but the character of Lucky proves otherwise. We can read Lucky as a symbolic figure of Christ, and, as such, his actions in the play carry a criticism of Christianity, suggesting that the merits of Christianity have decreased to the point where they no longer help man at all.
The parallels between Christ and Lucky are strong. Lucky, chained with a rope, is the humiliated prisoner, much like Jesus was the prisoner of the Romans after Judas turned him in. Estragon beats, curses, and spits on Lucky exactly as the Roman treated Jesus when preparing him for crucifixion. Lucky carries the burden of Pozzo's bags like a perpetual cross, and he is being led to a public fair where he will be mocked and sold; the Romans paraded Jesus on the hill where for public scorn. As Jesus fell three times under the weight of his burden, Lucky falls many times with the weight of the luggage, stool, coat, and picnic basket. Furthermore, Estragon wipes Lucky's eyes-like Veronica wiped Jesus' face-so he will "feel less forsaken" (p. 21b), which alludes directly to Jesus' cry from the cross: "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" [My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?] (Mark 15:34). Lucky slowly chokes as the rope cuts into his neck; crucifixion suffocated Jesus.
Pozzo, paraphrasing Estragon's question, then asks a rhetorical question concerning Lucky: "Why he doesn't make himself comfortable?" (p.21a). This question refers specifically to the taunt spectators hurled at Jesus, "Save yourself, why don't you? Come down off the cross if you are God's son," and refers generally to Christ's mission of suffering on earth (Matthew 26:40). Pozzo replies that Lucky doesn't want to drop the luggage because "he wants to mollify me, so that I will give up the idea of parting with him," and Lucky "imagines that when I see how well he carries I'll be tempted to keep him on in that capacity" (p. 21a). Likewise, Jesus believed that he had to carry out his burden-crucifixion-to awaken man's faith in God for time to come. Jesus commissioned his apostles to "make disciples of all nations...teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And always know that I am with you" (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus wanted humanity to act in his own memory, or to keep himself on in that capacity, which was that of teacher, comforter, and ultimately deliverer of salvation.
In that vein, Pozzo says he took on Lucky explicitly, and Christianity by extension, to "understand beauty, grace, truth of the first water" (p. 22b). But he soon feels both have outlived their usefulness:
Vladimir: After having sucked all the good out of him you chuck him away like. . . a banana skin. Really. . .
Pozzo: (groaning, clutching his head) I can't bear it. . .any longer. . .the way he goes on. . .you've no idea. . .it's terrible. . .he must go. . .(he waves his arms). . .I'm going mad. . .(he collapses, his head in his hands). . .I can't bear it. . . any longer. . .
. . .
Pozzo: (sobbing) He used to be so kind. . .so helpful. . .and entertaining. . .my good angel. . .and now. . .he's killing me (pps. 22b-23a)
This exchange establishes a time frame with two windows, then and now. In the past, Pozzo had benefitted from Lucky; now, the benefits are gone. Something, therefore, has occurred in the time between the two windows that has reduced Lucky's capabilities and overall effect (this change will be further explored later). Furthermore, it is an abstract effectiveness, rather than a material effectiveness, that has deteriorated because Lucky remains an adequate luggage carrier. Lucky can no longer offer what soothed and satisfied Pozzo's spirit; instead, he torments it. When Pozzo says that Lucky is killing him, he is not referring to any violent acts by Lucky, but rather to what...
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