The setting of the first act of ‘Waiting for Godot’ is in the evening – our first, if somewhat vague, reference to time. Vladimir enters and greets Estragon, who informs him that he spent the night, there is time as he has ‘spent’ the night, and it is over a previous action, which happened in the past.
Vladimir begins a narrative about the Gospels – written previously – about the two thieves in order to ‘pass the time’. Estragon wants to leave but Vladimir forces him to stay because they are both ‘waiting’, representing time being used up, for Godot. The subject of the play quickly becomes an example of how to pass the time in a situation, which offers no hope. Thus the beginning sets the theme of the play:
Estragon: Nothing to be done
Vladimir: I’m beginning to come round to that opinion.
A mention or representation of time is on page 2 when Vladimir says, “ We should have thought of it a million years ago, in the nineties”. We have an exaggeration of time, as a million years ago would certainly not feature on our time scale and then a mention of the nineties, presumably the 1890’s as this play was written in 1956. This is a somewhat feeble joke or just a mere representation of how Vladimir and Estragon are clueless when it comes to keeping and recalling time / past events.
These two lives are essentially describing the lack of focus and the hopelessness of their lives. A direct result of this hopelessness is the daily struggle to pass the time. Therefore the majority of the play is devoted to devising games which help them pass the time. Although not a direct link of time, i.e. through spoken dialogue, it is however a very clear representation of time not only in the play but also for the two characters. They want to pass the time so we experience their time scale by reading or watching the play.
Both Vladimir and Estragon admit to being happier when apart, one of the main reasons that they ...