“Endgame” by Samuel Beckett

Categories: Chess

“Finished, it’s finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished Grain upon grain, one by one, and one day, suddenly, there's a heap, a little heap, the impossible heap”. (p. 3) Here the endgame starts. In chess the endgame is defined as the stage of the game when only few pieces are left on the board. The same is with the Beckett’s play as there are only four people left. The endgame is a series of moves when the game is near the ending and its outcome is decided before the ceremony of the endgame occurs.

Samuel Beckett is known to be a chess player and in the play the author compares the endgame with the end of life – death as death is inevitable as the game always ends. We see that in the play the main characters are enacting repetitive rituals labeled as the part of their endgame. Despite inevitable outcome the main characters are dragging through the final moves making their routines and they are doing whatever it takes to get through the day and to see the next day.

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The characters try to get through despite their game is lost.

The idea of chess game is put in accordance with movements on the stage. The most vulnerable piece on the board is Hamm who utters: “Me to play”. (p. 18) Hamm is perceived as the King and he seems to be the most powerful. Clov is protective character in the centre of the board and Hamm often relies on him.

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Therefore, Clov is presented as the Queen and he is able to move easily. However, his erratic way of movement seems to be more suitable to the movement of the Knight. Nell and Nagg are insignificant characters and they are viewed as the Pawns – they appear only when the King calls for them.

One by one the main characters are dying and one by one the chess figures are leaving the board. Nothing is eternal in the world and every game has its ending. The theme of chess play shows cyclical Universe – ‘the play ends with a stalemate’. The game will be played over and over again.

Works Cited

  1. Adorno, Theodor W. Trying to Understand Endgame [1961], The New German Critique, no. 26, (Spring-Summer 1982) pp. 119-150.
  2. In The Adorno Reader ed. Brian O'Connor. Blackwell Publishers. 2000. Beckett, Samuel. Endgame and the Act Without Words. USA: Groove Press, 1994.
Updated: Feb 23, 2021
Cite this page

“Endgame” by Samuel Beckett. (2017, Jan 25). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/endgame-by-samuel-beckett-essay

“Endgame” by Samuel Beckett essay
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