Apocalypse and Renewal in Samuel Beckett's Endgame
Endgame, as the very title suggests, is about ends or an end. Its opening words, 'Finished, it's finished...' pervade the action, or perhaps rather inaction, that follows, and throughout the play Beckett, like Shakespeare in King Lear, employs a lexicon of decay and nothingness that implies an apocalypse. Clov sees 'zero' when he examines the beyond with his telescope, the anonymous painter and engraver views only ashes from the window to which he is dragged, while Hamm estimates that, 'Outside of here it's death'. The dialogue is crammed with references to the dead and the dying, sych as the rat, the flea, Mother Pegg and Nell, and time and again we are told that 'There is no more...' (painkiller, bicycle wheels, sugar plums, pap to mention but a few) Yet language itself seems to be falling apart, to be running out:
CLOV: I'm back again, with the glass. [He goes to window right, looks up at it.] I need the steps.
HAMM: Why? Have you shrunk? [Exit CLOV with telescope.] I don't like that, I don't like that.
[Enter CLOV with ladder, but without telescope.]
CLOV: I'm back again, with the steps. [He sets down the ladder under the window right, gets up on it, realises he has not...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 1178 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 9074 literature essays, 2378 sample college application essays, 399 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in