Interpersonal relationships are extremely important, because the interaction of the characters in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot as they try to satisfy one another’s boredom, is the basis for the play. Pozzo’s and Lucky’s interactions with each other form the basis for one of the play’s major themes. The ambivalence of Pozzo’s and Lucky’s relationship in Waiting For Godot resembles most human relationships.
Irritated by one another, they still must function together. References to their relationship are generally couched in rope images. Physically present and other wise implied, visible and invisible,involving people as well as inanimate objects, and connect the dead with the living. The only rope that appears literally is the leash around Lucky’s neck that Pozzo holds. In terms of the rope, the relationship between these characters is one of consistent domination.
The stage directions say that “Pozzo drives Lucky by means of a rope passed round his neck.” 15 Lucky is whipped often, and he is essentially the horse pulling Pozzo’s carriage in a relationship that seems cruel and domineering. Yet Lucky is strangely compliant. In explaining Lucky’s behavior, Pozzo says, “Why he doesn’t make himself comfortable? Let’s try and get this clear. Has he not the right to? Certainly he has. It follows that he doesn’t want to…He imagines that when I see how well he carries I’ll be tempted to keep him on in that capacity…As though I were short of slaves. Despite his miserable condition, Lucky does not seem to desire change.
Perhaps he is happy, or maybe not miserable enough. Perhaps, as the compliant Vladimir and Estragon, he cannot envision himself any differently. The relationship between Pozzo and Lucky does not, however, stagnate at this point. The very next day, when the two next appear, the rope between them is significantly shorter so that the now-blind Pozzo may find his way.
In this new situation, it is less clear which character leads the other, or if either one is truly in control. As the stage directions read, “Pozzo is blind…Rope as before, but much shorter, so that Pozzo may follow more easily.” For the first time in the text, Pozzo is dependent on Lucky for direction; Lucky is dependent on Pozzo for the same reason, though this relationship is one of emotional, rather than physical, dependence. The shortness of the rope, necessary because of Pozzo’s blindness, affects their relationship; their new-found closeness makes it difficult for Pozzo to dominate and for Lucky to be truly servile and completely pathetic. As the stage directions indicate, after bumping into Estragon, Lucky falls, drops everything and brings down Pozzo with him. They lie helpless among the scattered baggage. The two men, one disabled with blindness and the other on the verge of death, are unable to rise off the ground, from which Pozzo hopes to ascend but cannot without assistance.
He calls pathetically for help rising from the ground, which shows his despair. Pozzo tries to end the despair by telling Estragon to jolt the rope that is still around Lucky’s neck, but Pozzo forgets that Lucky will react differently because he will be ignoring the vast differences between his own roped-in sadomasochistic relationship with Lucky and Estragon’s blunt hatred of Lucky. So Estragon kicks Lucky in revenge, and the anger spreading in this action fails to achieve anything. Estragon’s and Lucky’s collective impotence soon ends however, as Pozzo decides to once again dominate Lucky in the familiar manner.
The loving belligerence resumes as Pozzo screams “Enough! Up pig!” Lucky soon gets up, since his normal condition (of being dominated by Pozzo) has been restored and he no longer must feel somehow equal to his master. Although the length of the rope is not literally changed, there is clearly an equilibrium length which must separate Pozzo and Lucky figuratively in order for their relationship to proceed naturally; any longer or shorter and there would not be the proper amount of domination and submission. Vladimir and Estragon have a similar relationship in many ways, for there is a certain amount of submission and domination in their interactions with one another. The submission and domination, however, is less consistent and less implied than it is for Pozzo and Lucky. But when the two principal characters seek to play a game, Vladimir suggests they “play at Pozzo and Lucky”, a game that requires them to abuse one another for amusement.
Overall, the relationship of Pozzo and Lucky seems to be a necessary evil. They never seem to agree on much or even get along very well, but still seem to be two parts of a single person. However they bicker or condemn each other, they need each other to function correctly, and whenever their relationship is danger, they cease to function normally.