A: Samuel Beckett Pf: 1957, London Pb: 1957 Tr: 1958 G: Drama in 1 act; French prose S: Room in indeterminate location, the future C: 3m, 1fIn a bare room with one door and two high windows, a figure sits draped with a dust sheet, behind whom stand two dustbins. A stiff-legged servant Clov moves around, finally removing the sheet to reveal Hamm. Clov begins with: ‘Finished, it's finished, nearly finished.’ Although Hamm, blind and confined to a wheelchair, is at Clov's mercy, Clov serves him grudgingly. When asked why Clov doesn't kill him, Clov replies that he does not know the combination of the larder. When Hamm asks for things (including later painkillers and coffins), Clov tells him that there are none left. Out of one of the dustbins arises a pale face, that of Nagg, demanding his ‘pap’ – but ‘there's no more pap’. Nagg is Hamm's father. After a bicycle accident in which they lost their legs, Nagg and Hamm's mother Nell have been confined to the dustbins. Even Nagg's story of the tailor fails to amuse Nell now. To pass the time, Hamm gets Clov to push him round the room, then to look out of the windows to tell him what he sees, but all is grey outside. Hamm feels a flea, and is terrified that evolution may begin all over again. Clov brings Hamm a toy dog as a companion. Hamm delivers a long rhetorical story, which suggests that Clov is his son. Clov looks out once again and is horrified to see a small boy outside. He is going out to murder this ‘potential procreator’, but Hamm dissuades him, since the boy will die or come to them. Clov agrees to leave Hamm and dresses to depart, but while Hamm delivers his ‘final soliloquy’, Clov remains motionless at the door.
A: Samuel Beckett Pf: 1957, London Pb: 1957 Tr: 1958 G: Drama in 1 act; French prose S: Room in indeterminate location, the future C: 3m, 1f
Endgame has been variously interpreted. The title and phrases like ‘Me to play’ refer to chess; the bare stage, with its two high windows, suggests the inside of a skull; Hamm, sounding like the colloquialism for a poor actor, and his mentions of ‘asides’ and ‘soliloquies’ point to the theatrical experience of repeating the same role again and again; the isolation, greyness, and the unavailability of goods suggest the remains of life after a nuclear holocaust. As ever, amongst these mystifying clues, Beckett succeeds in creating a beautifully written, tense drama in which almost nothing happens, a drama that offers a relentlessly bleak image of the end of humanity. At least in Waiting for Godot there was some hope of redemption, even if illusory. Here there is none.