Endgame: The Tragedy of Its Time. Putting a Beckett Play to the Aristotelian Test

At first glimpse, Samuel Beckett's Endgame has absolutely nothing in common with the model provided in Aristotle's Poetics. Where Aristotle claims the most important element of any tragedy is plot, Endgame seems to have no plot. Where Aristotle discusses the importance of speech(es) conveying moral purpose and character, Endgame has characters that speak metalanguage (language that talks about language), and only speak in order to pass time. Where Aristotle discusses action being a movement of spirit, Endgame seems to be totally devoid of characters that go through a movement of spirit. But after observing the structure of the play, Martin Esslin's essay The Theatre of the Absurd, and, most importantly, Endgame in context with the time period that it was written in, Endgame appears to have several points of contact with the model provided in Poetics and can be called a tragedy for the post World War II era.

Endgame, written in French, was first produced in 1957. Esslin explains that the movement of absurdism emerged in France after World War II as a rebellion against the traditional values and beliefs of Western culture and literature (878). Absurdist drama creates an environment where people are isolated and the...

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