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Death of a Salesman

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1. In Act I, Didi usually speaks as mind, and Gogo speaks as body. "Gogo "eats, sleeps, and faces beating while onstage, whereas Didi ponders spiritual salvation. Didi is the more eloquent of the two, with Gogo sitting, leaning, limping, falling, i.e., seeking nearness to the ground. Gogo relies on pantomime, while Didi leans toward rhetoric. Gogo wants Lucky to dance; Didi wants him to think. Gogo stinks from his feet, Didi from his mouth. By act 2, the distinctions are blurred. Both Gogo and Didi engage in mental and physical exercises to pass interminable time, and Didi seems to be more agile in each domain. At the end of Act I, it is the active Gogo who asks, 'Well, shall we go?' and the meditative Didi who assents, 'Yes, let's go.' Act 2 closes with the same lines, but the speakers are reversed" (Cohn 171).

2. "Vladimir and Estragon are complimentary characters, as are Lucky and Pozzo. "

3. Lucky taught Pozzo all the higher values of life ("beauty, grace, truth"); Lucky is mind and spirit--Pozzo is body and material; "Intellect is subordinate to the appetites of the body," but they are tied together" (Esslin, Search 28).

4. Are Estragon and Vladimir superior to Pozzo and Lucky because the former have companionship, compassion, and because the former have faith and hope?--or are the two couples equally absurd and foolish? (Esslin, Search 30).

5. Lucky and Pozzo both benefit from the S & M, slave and master relationship because the relationship gives them identity and purpose.


Although audiences had already been introduced to modernist, experimental modes of theater before Beckett's Waiting for Godot appeared in 1953, this is the play that had the most profound and wide-ranging impact. This is the play that started a trend which became known as "theater of the absurd." Before this play, audiences could expect the "well-made" play-life-like, psychologically realistic characters, witty dialogue, and well-crafted, causal plots with neatly tied up beginnings, middles, and ends. But the theater of the absurd subverts these expectations at every turn. The characters are unfamiliar, weirdly motivated; their dialogue is filled with non-sequitors and "blather," seeming nonsense. The movement of the plot is arbitrary; there's no identifiable beginning, middle, and end-no "Freytag's pyramid" to help us get a grip on the plot.

Most strikingly, Beckett, like other dramatists working in this mode, is not trying to "tell a story." He's not offering any easily identifiable solutions to carefully observed problems; there's little by way of moralizing and no obvious



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