beckett and homoeroticism

Part of the Palgrave Advances book series (PAD)


Samuel Beckett’s most famous play, Waiting for Godot, has an all-male cast, and centers around two protagonists who appear to have shared each others’ lives for decades. They bicker, they embrace each other, they depend upon each other. It has been suggested by many that they might be thought of as a married couple. But critics have generally been slow to reflect upon the possibility that there might be an erotic dimension to their quasi-marital relationship, even despite Vladimir’s claim, in the opening moments of the play, that he has a tendency to ‘go all queer.’1 In what could be thought of as an extraordinary demonstration of mass denial, Beckett studies has worked under the assumption that Vladimir and Estragon are just good friends. Like Holmes and Watson, they may have breakfast together, but in the critical imagination they have remained resolutely straight. Masculinity in the play has most often been read as a metonym for the human condition, and as a result any homoerotic drives that may emerge from the play’s depiction of a loving male partnership are effaced by an insistence upon compulsory heterosexuality. The relationship between man and man is allowed to stand in for a relationship between man and woman, and any transgressive, subversive, or dissident erotics in the play are accordingly subsumed under the figure of a normative humanity.


Critical Imagination Compulsory Heterosexuality True Love Narrative Voice True Home 
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works cited

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2004

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