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An Analysis of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame

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1 An Analysis of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame
-Mark Amoruso and Mark Fishbough

2 Work Classification Endgame is classified as an absurdist play.
Samuel Beckett is known for expressing absurdism in his plays. Waiting for Godot is another example of an absurdist play by Samuel Beckett. Samuel Beckett was a leading figure behind the French theatrical movement of the absurd.

3 Work Classification What is an absurdist play?
Absurdist plays evoke that life is meaningless. They depict people trying to live in a meaningless world. (zero environment) They often contain people repeating themselves to death. (insanity) Absurdist plays often lack a sense of logic. They can also be meant for humor because they are so absurd at times. End Game is a prime example of an absurdist play.

4 Plot Summary Characters Clov Hamm Nagg Nell

5 Plot Summary The scene begins with Clov preparing the room. He opens the curtains and reveals Hamm by taking a cloth off of him. Hamm is in a seat that he remains in for the entire play. Hamm is also blind.

6 Plot Summary Clov and Hamm talk for a while. Hamm asks why Clov does not leave him. Clov replies that he has no one else. Clov acts as a sort of servant to Hamm. Next, Hamm’s parents, Nagg and Nell, emerge from the trash bins that they live in. Nagg asks Nell to scratch him and kiss him but Nell refuses. Then they return to their bins.

7 Plot Summary Hamm then orders Clov to push him around the room in his chair. Clov takes him to the window to feel the sunlight. Clov then returns Hamm to the center of the room and Hamm wants to be adjusted because he never feels perfectly in the center.

8 Plot Summary Clov then looks out the window using a spectacle. He sees nothing but gray. Hamm then has Clov fetch a stuffed dog to sit by his side. The two then argue. Hamm tells Clov not to leave him. Hamm has Clov awaken Nagg. Nagg agrees to listen to Hamm’s story if he gets a sugarplum. Nagg listens but does not receive a sugarplum.

9 Plot Summary Later, Clov checks on Nell and finds out that she is dead. Nagg crys inside of his bin. Hamm and Clov do not show any sympathy. Clov then looks out the window and claims he sees a boy. Clov wants to go find the boy. Hamm is convinced that Clov is going to leave and says a few “ending words” and covers his face with his neckerchief. Clov never leaves though and remains in the doorway.

10 Character Analysis Clov Servant to Hamm. Submissive to Hamm.
Serves Hamm to give his life purpose in a “meaningless” world. Hamm needs Clov because Hamm is disabled. Clov tends to reluctantly give in to Hamm’s ways even though he has the urge not to. Less intellectual than Hamm. Has trouble thinking for himself. Hamm and Clov need each other to survive.

11 Character Analysis CLOV: “Why do you keep me?”
HAMM: “There's no one else.”

12 Character Analysis Hamm
Needs Clov in order to survive but still has precedence over Clov. Overly intellectual at times. The brains of the operation. (Clov would not know what to do without him) Shows very few emotions for his parents (Nagg and Nell) The only emotion he expresses is anger towards people. Deep down he seeks love and attention that he does not get from his parents. (He asks Clov to kiss him) Essentially their lives have no meaning and their only goal is to survive. Hamm even questions his own life. Attempts to find entertainment in a dull pointless world.

13 Character Analysis HAMM: “Go and get the oilcan.” CLOV: “What for?”
HAMM: “To oil the castors.” CLOV: “I oiled them yesterday.” HAMM: “Yesterday! What does that mean? Yesterday!”

14 Character Analysis Nagg Father of Hamm. Lives in a trash can.
Loves his wife Nell. Shows love towards Nell but does not receive any back. Extremely sad when Nell dies. Once Nell is dead his life is meaningless. Talks of a time when life had meaning. Stuck in place just like everyone else.

15 Character Analysis NAGG: “Were you asleep?” NELL:”Oh no!”
NAGG:”Kiss me.” NELL:”We can't.” NAGG: “Try.”(Their heads strain towards each other, fail to meet, fall apart again.) NELL: “Why this farce, day after day?”

16 Character Analysis Nell Mother of Hamm.
Survives because of Nagg. (Nagg gives her food.) Nell and Nagg’s relationship is a metaphor for Hamm and Clov’s relationship. They all need each other to survive. Then, Nell dies. This could also symbolize Hamm and Clov’s relationship dying.

17 Character Analysis NAGG: “Can you see me?” NELL: “Hardly. And you?”
NAGG: “What?” NELL: “Can you see me?” NAGG: “Hardly.” (Their senses are dying just like their bodies) (Everyone is dying in a way)

18 Themes Emptiness/loneliness Repetitive nature Aging

19 Themes: Ageing As people age, their bodies start to fail and they will have to be taken care of buy the youths. In endgame everyone seems old and their bodies are failing. Clov: Cant sit and has a bad back and eyesight Hamm: Blind and Crippled Nell and Nagg: Bad hearing and are basically treated like animals. You can see that Clov is the youngest and Nagg and Nell are the oldest.

20 Themes: Ageing Clov, since he is the most capable, takes care of everyone. He takes Hamm for a walk around the room and sight sees for him and gives Nagg and Nell a biscut and changes their “sawdust.” Its like if Clov was the only human and every other person there was a dog. And like old dogs they can be a burden to take care of but we do because we love them and would be lonely empty without them.

21 Themes: Emptiness and Loneliness
In the world of Becket, nothing has meaning or everything can have meaning, it is how it is interpreted. But to the characters in the play it is a constant struggle to find meaning to live.

22 Themes: Emptiness and Loneliness
Clove wants to leave Hamm because he is empty but stays because he will be lonely. Is it better to be empty with company or have meaning but be lonely? Clov’s never leaves because he will be lost without Hamm until Hamm passes and Clove takes his place.

23 Themes: Emptiness and Loneliness
Nagg and Nell have each other even though their living like dogs confined to their trashcans. They cannot touch, kiss, and barely hear or see but they keep each other company. When Nell dies Nagg becomes lonely and empty and his live lost meaning.

24 Themes: Repetitive Nature
Again in a lot of Beckett works, his characters tend to repeat themselves insane. When you are bored what do you do to pass the time? Tap? Hum a tune that’s been stuck in your head? Well the world of Beckett is very boring. They are like a bunch of bored people sitting in a room waiting for something to happen that never does. A lot like waiting for Gadot.

25 Themes: Repetitive Nature
Clov must have walked to the window and placed the ladder and used the spectacle a dozen times in the play. It passes time. Although there is no time in a Beckett play. so he is stuck. when Clov gets the chance he goes into the kitchen to stare at the wall. Is this another attemp to pass time or is it a symbol?

26 Symbols The Wall/Kitchen The 3 Legged Dog The Spectacle
The handkerchief

27 Symbols: The Kitchen/Wall
Every once in a wile Clov will try to escape to the kitchen and look at his beloved wall. Why does he do this? Is it to pass time? Or does he see something? Hamm: “And what do you see on your wall? Mene, mene? Naked Bodies?” I don’t know what a Mene is, but it wouldn’t be a Figliola world lit class without naked bodies. This is of coarse a sexual reference that Clov is sexually frustrated and needs to get alone to “get off” to the wall.

28 Symbols: The Kitchen/Wall
Clove: “I see my light dying.” I interpreted this in two ways. One: he is getting older and he is watching his eyesight fail him Two: he his still getting older and is waiting for his opportunity to leave while he can go out the door without him

29 Symbols: The Spectacle
Clove uses the Spectacle to look out the window into a world the would much rather be in than stuck with the burden of taking care of Hamm. But since he is bound to Hamm by his love and fear of loneliness the spectacle is his escape to the outside world.

30 Symbols: The Dog The three legged dog is a symbol of what Hamm is becoming. But of coarse Hamm wants his youth back. He wants to be in Clov’s position being able to walk and see. Taking care of a dog gives him that power. Since he is not completely helpless he can feel like he is taking care of someone which puts him in Clov’s position and makes him feel like he is young again

31 Symbols: The Handkerchief
The handkerchief that is removed from Hamm’s face in the begging and is placed back on his face in the end symbolizes death. Hamm wants it to end, he does not want to live how he is living and sure as hell does not want to become his parents who are defecting in sawdust inside of a trashcan.

32 Symbols: The Handkerchief
As long as Hamm has that handkerchief over his head, he can sleep his live away. He can return to his dream where he can walk and see again in the forest. When the handkerchief is removed Hamm wakes up (comes to life) and when it is placed back on his face at the end he goes back to sleep (dies)

33 Quotes Hamm: “The bigger a man is, the fuller he is… and the emptier.”
What does this mean? I sounds like he was trying to say that as we get older we take more in (experiences) but we lose the things we cherish, whether its out ability to walk or see or loved ones.

34 Quotes Nell: “Why this farce, day after day?
When Nell and Nagg where trying to kiss but could not it is like the biggest tease being next to the one you love for the rest of your life and not being able to touch them. Like in Act Without Words, every time something is introduced to him that he wants it is pulled away just as he reaches out to get it. It must suck to live in a world where the thing you want most is always in sight but never able to reach.

35 Quotes Hamm: “Did your seeds come up?” Clov: “No”
Hamm: “Did you scratch around them to see if they sprouted?” Clov: “They haven't sprouted.” Hamm: “Perhaps it’s still to early.” Clov: “if they were going to sprout they would have sprouted. They’ll never sprout!”

36 Quotes In the last quote it is a sexual reference. Hamm is asking Clov if he is getting it up but unfortunately he is not. Then Hamm asked if he tried masturbating but again Clov says its not working. Them Hamm says, maybe its to early to get in that mood. But Clove, not frustrated, says its not working ad its never going to work!

37 Quotes Hamm: “Moments for nothing, now as always, time was never and time is over, reckoning closed and story ended.” Hamm here points out that the was not time. He was young and like a blink of an eye he is old and in another blink he will be dead.

38 The Link to the Play

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