Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Dark Side of Tarragon

Beckett's famous play, Waiting for Godot, has as one of its two principal characters by the name of Estragon.

This is not a real name that people actually have. It refers to "tarragon" in French.

What's not so obvious is that tarragon had an association of being "dragon-like" or "serpent-like" most likely because its anise-like flavor will overpower any dish.

Estragon is definitely serpent-like in the play and "earth-bound" as opposed to the intellectual and "air-bound", Vladimir. Beckett explicitly calls for instructions for the actors to be fat and squat versus tall and skinny respectively. He also has Estragon continually near the ground while Vladimir is always standing up.

Estragon is repeatedly willing to compromise to get his way (serpent-like?) versus the more idealistic Vladimir who will not until the end of the second act when he has a brief moment of panic.

Did Beckett intend this? Almost certainly. The name doesn't exist so what else could it be other than a form of association?

Unfortunately Beckett's (very copious) notes leave no indication about this part of his imagination so we will just have to contend ourselves with conjecture.

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