Samuel Beckett’s interest in tragicomedy has been clear since he attached the subtitle A Tragicomedy in Two Acts to the English translation of Waiting for Godot. This article articulates what exactly Beckettian tragicomedy does. Godot, Beckett’s foremost tragicomedy, stages the interplay of his wide-ranging literary and philosophical influences. Drawing on figures such as Arthur Schopenhauer, Jean Racine, Henri Bergson, Arnold Geulincx, and Fritz Mauthner, the play bends toward tragedy but undercuts any sense of finality with its slow unrolling. More than a metaphysical statement, this temporal model of tragicomedy offers a Beckettian ethics insistent on both the resigned compassion of tragedy and comedy’s power to critique. In outlining Godot’s tragicomic philosophy, the essay charts Beckett’s deployment of the various figures who inspire his play but also shows how this tragicomic paradigm functions in the theater—and how it inspires future dramatists.

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