Beckett’s superimposing Essay
On the surface this exchange is witty and would have the audience laughing if well performed. However, when considering what they’re talking about it is slightly depressing the humour then turns much more sardonic and despairing. One is chair bound and the other is tormented by having to be constantly on his feet. A little bit later on they have another exchange which shows their discontent and depression with these fact – “Hamm: Nature has forgotten us. Clov: There is no more nature!… ” The possibility of nature not existing gives the whole play still further meaning.
Are they living in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust? If one does decide that the characters are living in a bunker avoiding the effects of a nuclear winter, then everything in the play is given extensive resonance and to call it meaningless would be ignorant. If Beckett did intend the play to have this nuclear agenda, then it would explain Hamm saying towards the end of the play when Clov sees a little boy outside the house/bunker – “It’s the end, Clov, we’ve come to the end” The ‘end’ Hamm refers to would be the end of the nuclear winter.
The play, for one which has such elusive dialogues, has very strong themes. The strength of themes, I feel, is one of the things which makes it difficult to claim that ‘Endgame’ has no meaning. One theme, which Beckett refers back to regularly throughout the play, is “finishing”. The reason for Beckett’s choice of this word for this theme is the multitude of its’ possible meanings. The theme is so important it is presented in the opening moments of the play by Clov – “Finished, it’s finished, nearly finished, it must be finished.
” One could argue that the fact that Beckett chose a word, which has so many meanings, indicates that Beckett does not wish to imply any specific meaning what so ever. If this were true then one of the main themes of the play is meaningless thus providing substantial evidence for the argument that ‘Endgame’ has no meaning. I however disagree with this, everything in this play remains unfinished or incomplete – even the characters bodies. I think Beckett is implying that the only thing that finishes everything is death. The only way to be complete is to die.
I feel this is backed up by the following exchange – “Clov: I couldn’t finish you. Hamm: Then you shan’t finish me. ” The design of the set also provides argument as to what the meaning of the play is. Beckett designed the set to accommodate many possible readings of the play. One could take it, as I mentioned earlier, as a nuclear bunker; this would explain the ground level windows and the deformed characters. The stage setting has also been likened to a skull, the two windows being the eyes. If this were true the characters could represent the differing departments of the brain.
In this reading the entire stage and production would be a metaphor for an ageing or dying mind; evidence for this would be Clov’s continual memory lapses and the death of Nell. In conclusion I do find ‘Endgame’ very resonant. There are many different ways of interpreting this play and Beckett invites this by the seemingly abstract dialogue. Beckett’s superimposing of his ability to write comical (if slightly obscure) dialogue on top of his contrary and nihilistic attitude to life creates a very amusing yet conceptually powerful piece of drama.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 8 July 2017
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