Pozzo and Lucky Relationship in Waiting for Godot
Pozzo and Lucky are on the stage for quite some time, but their contribution to the main theme is rather negligible. Usually a subplot or an under-plot has an integral part of the main plot. At times it re-iterates the idea of the main plot. The Gloucester episode in King Lear, for example, is the main plot in miniature and heightens and deepens the tragedy, and demonstrates that there is a commotion in the moral world. The Pozzo-Lucky episode serves no such purpose. As a matter of fact, even if this episode is removed, the structure and the theme of the play will remain unimpaired.
Vladimir and Estragon are tied with the invisible and unbreakable bond of friendship and camaraderie. Pozzo and Lucky are not friends. Their relation is that of a master and a slave. Pozzo is a power-mad master, who has Lucky tied with a rope. He ill treats him and abuses and manhandles him in season and out of season. He goes so far as to think of selling Lucky in the fair as a beast of burden. Lucky has to carry the luggage of Pozzo. To heighten the irony of the play he even carries the whip between his teeth which his master has to use from time to time for the chastisement of the slave, Pozzo eats chicken voraciously and throws the bones with no pith and marrow at Lucky. A trencherman, he eats and drinks and has no consideration for his slave, who plods his weary way hungry, thirsty and exhausted. Pozzo imagines that he is as powerful as Godot, and therefore, the arbiter of human destiny.
The Pozzo-Lucky episode has been introduced for several reasons. It is, as John Pilling says, a device of the ‘theatre of cruelty.’ It adds to the variety of the play. For without this episode, Vladimir and Estragon would have to indulge more in talks and platitudes, antics and exercises. The two tramps are bored and depressed and constantly say: “There is nothing to be done”, and “We are Waiting for Godot.”
The audience as well as the tramps find in the Pozzo-Lucky episode a welcome interlude, although it may not be sufficiently comical. The episode brings into sharp focus the relentless forces of existence. Vladimir and Estragon are not the only persons to suffer the arrows and slings of misfortune. They are all in an alien world, groping in the dark. They are all separated from the hostile world, where they can only abandon themselves the pessimism, ennui, despair, doubt, and fear.
The relation of Pozzo with Lucky shows the grim picture of what man has made of man. Dressed in a brief little authority, Pozzo looks upon Lucky as a pariah dog or an ass. He thinks of himself, sitting on the stool as a king seated on the throne. He does not owe any explanation for his misbehaviour with Lucky. Estragon wonders why even while at rest, Lucky does not put down his luggage. Pozzo flares up:
“A moment ago you were calling me sir, in fear and trembling. Now you’re asking me questions.”
Nemesis soon follows. Pozzo, the tyrant, becomes blind. He stumbles and falls, and has to be raised to his feet by Estragon and Vladimir. The two tramps are contrasted with Pozzo and Lucky. Pozzo represents autocracy and tyranny. He is the symbol of the feudal lords, capitalists, and the ‘Haves’. Lucky is the representative of the lowly and the lost, the waifs and wastlers, the offscourings the ‘Have-nots.’
Estragon and Vladimir are poor tramps with no material resources. But they have their hearts in the right place. They feel for their fellowmen. When they watch human indignity they can at least show their sympathy and compassion. The relation between Pozzo and Lucky in the relation between the master and the slave, the relation between a heartless man and a beast of burden. The relation between Vladimir and Estragon is the relation between man and man, between two fellow-sufferers.
Pozzo and Lucky heighten the gloom of the play and contribute to its tragic effect and atmosphere. Pozzo always gives the airs of superiority and even vulgarity. Lucky has never a word of protest against his master’s heartlessness. But this very man, who has been reduced to object slavery and beastliness, talks in an altogether different vein, when asked to ‘think’. He strikes a note of gloom and despair as he says unequivocally that man lives in an alien world. God is not the symbol of love and goodness. He is an incarnation of ‘apathia’, ‘athambia’, and ‘aphasia’. Man is not on his way to progress: he is harking back to the crude age of primitivism. Science and technology will spell disaster. Different from Lucky in all respects, Pozzo also indulge in philosophical platitudes:
“One day like any other day, one day he went dumb, one day I went blind, one day we’ll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die…”
The master and the slave both emphasize that life is a brief candle to be extinguished. Pozzo is a vivid illustration of what he himself has said. One proud and haughty, he becomes blind and is at the mercy of Lucky, who is now dumb. He presents a sad spectacle of man’s impotence and helplessness. Once the symbol of the Establishment, he is now a heap of ruins. Once he seriously thought of killing Lucky. At the sight of Lucky’s tears, he laughed derisively and said that even a dog had a sense of dignity. Estragon tries to console Lucky and wipe away his tears. Lucky for some unknown reason kicks him hard and stops weeping. It is now Estragon’s turn to shed tears.
Pozzo is essentially an egoist, an almost Machiavellian character, who believes that the end justifies the means. He says: “Do I look like a man who could be made to suffer?” Lucky had seen better days, when fortune smiled on him. In a sense he was the teacher of his master and taught him how to think and initiated him into the mysteries and ineffable charm of beauty, grace, truth of the first water. Pozzo learnt them only to forget.
Redemption and Salvation are the problems that haunt Estragon and Vladimir, particularly the latter. Lucky also speaks of a personal God, who is a victim of ‘apathia’, ‘athambia’ and ‘aphasia’, i.e. to say God is apathetic man’s joys and sorrows; he lacks the capacity for terror, and cannot communicate with man. “God, who does not communicate with us”, says Martin Esslin, “cannot feel for us, and condemns us for reasons unknown.”
Ingenious critics have traced in Pozzo and Lucky certain religious symbols. One critic, for example, says that Lucky is the main character in the play, who may be Godot or even Christ. Another critic suggests that Pozzo is Godot or even God. If the latter view is accepted, Beckett presents a merciless and heartless God, more heartless than even Hardy’s “President of the Immortals”, who chooses to sport with the mortals. Lucky in that case becomes the representative of mankind, always at the mercy of a merciless tyrant. The two tramps are patiently Waiting for Godot, who may punish or reward them.
Pozzo appears on the scene, but he is none other than Godot himself. Man with his limited vision cannot hope to see God face to face, because of his disguise. For a while Estragon and Vladimir believe that Pozzo is Godot himself. Estragon timidly asks: “You’re not Mr. Godot, sir?” Pozzo tells them that he is Pozzo, but exhorts them at the same time that man is “made in God’s image.” He mutters and mumbles:
“Godet… Godot…. Godin …any how you see who I mean, who has your future in his hands… at least your immediate future.”
If Pozzo is Godot, we do not find God of the New Testament nor even of the Old. If God has not even an iota of goodness, love, and mercy, such a God has come out of the pages of Lucretius.
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