Endgame by Samuel Beckett: Critical Analysis

The Endgame falls into the category of theatre of absurd since it is a despairing play about hopelessness. It is a play where nothing happens once. The sense of despair is heightened by the fact that the characters are not waiting for anything other than death in the play. The fear of being incarnated after death is dominant to all the characters.

Samuel Beckett

In the play, two senses of characters are presented. Hamm and Clov represent human brain while Nagg and Nell represent memory. Hamm is a master, father figure. He is blind, paralytic and cannot stand. He sits on a chair and tells Clov to look on the dustbin and outside. Clov is servant son who cannot sit. The Idea of dependence is dominant on the play. The reciprocity is also realized in the play as Hamm provides food and shelter for Clov and Clov provides legs and eyesight to him. Finally, the break of reciprocity is the death for both of them in the play. Nagg and Nell are parents to Hamm. The parents Nagg and Nell are in the dustbin that displays the meaningless existence of old people.

Like other absurd drama the Endgame basically projects the human condition. In the play, Hamm and Clov talk the things related to brain that is the attempt to gain knowledge. Time and again Clov looks out on the sea, but finds nothing. There is no ship, no sail and no fish which suggest that there is no development in the life of these characters. Dead existence is prominent in the play. Clov looks out on the earth, but finds no tree and leaf.

As far as the stage setting is concerned; it is like a skull that suggests hell. The two windows, the ladder and the chair posited into the center embody the sign of danger. It is a creative element in the play. The play also possesses quite a number of allusions. The universe of endgame is seen as purgatory that is a state of limbo for purification. The purgatory is a region where one sinks to wipe out the sin. The play suggests purgatory. The characters have committed a sin, so they are in the process of purification in purgatory. Their sin was their birth and the window in the play represents the hope of salvation. As the play consists of Death in life and Life in Death, it tries to convey the idea that the worst thing that can happen to us is to be born and the next best thing that can happen to us is to be dying. The death is a reality, so it is better to be prepared for death. In this sense it is pessimistic play. Killing the rats and the flies suggests the death consciousness.

As far as the title is concerned; Endgame is a certain move in the chess. It is a term that describes an ending in chess where the outcome is already known. The reference of white and red is the pun for chess. In chess, someone loses and someone wins but in the play no one wins but all dies. The title of this play is symbolic in the sense that living the life is analogous to playing chess. All the characters are waiting for death. The death consciousness is alive throughout the play. That projects the helpless situation of human beings.