Endgame: Overview

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Author: Ronald Hayman
Editor: Lesley Henderson
Date: 1995
Publisher: Gale
Document Type: Work overview; Critical essay
Length: 883 words

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Over four years elapsed between the premiere of Waiting for Godot and that of Beckett's next play, Endgame, in April 1957. The plays share some similar features particularly in the ratio of three clown-like characters to one `serious' character. In Endgame the paralyzed blind man, Hamm, is central, and dictates the overall tone of the play.

Of the four characters, Hamm's servant, Clov, is the only one who can walk. Confined to an armchair, which is on castors, Hamm orders him about, depending on him to push the armchair into different positions, while Hamm's ancient parents, Nagg and Nell, are confined to bobbing up and down in their dustbins. The interdependence of master and servant is reminiscent of that between Pozzo and Luck in Godot; Hamm and Clov are similarly interdependent—Hamm can't stand, while Clov can't sit. But the restrictions on movement limit possibilities for the kind of knockabout comedy that was so important in the earlier play. Clov, like Lucky, rushes frantically about, mostly in obedience to orders from his master, fetching whatever Hamm wants, appearing whenever he's whistled for, fetching, carrying, climbing up and down ladders. Beckett is inventive within the limits he sets for himself, but these are so narrow that the play seems to contain much less physical action than Godot.

Blind from the beginning...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|H1420000653