• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Endgame" is written in the unique style associated with Samuel Beckett's works- a minimalist, distressing piece of work about isolation, death, and language

Extracts from this document...


546692 EN1021, Reading Literature "Endgame" is written in the unique style associated with Samuel Beckett's works- a minimalist, distressing piece of work about isolation, death, and language. The play is an absurdist drama and has also been described as a comedy, despite the disturbing themes presented in the opening passage, such as the circular and repetitive nature of life and the meaninglessness of human existence. Beckett uses many different devises to make the play extremely effective in a performance such as a simple, bare setting; frequent silences and dark lighting. The plot of "Endgame" is continuous, unbroken by separate scenes or acts showing that the character's lives consist of a long pattern of ceaselessly repeating events. One of the major themes is that life is a circular existence without a definite beginning or ending, and so Beckett creates a repetitive, meaningless existence for his characters. The play's title refers to the final stage in a game of chess, the moves that lead to one player defeating the other, and Clov's blunt statement which opens the play, suggests that some sort of end or defeat is near, "finished, it's finished, nearly finished." His lack of emotion as he dwells on this "end" and his "fixed gaze" clearly shows the character's fragile states of mind. Clov has lost his passion for living and is acknowledging the "finish" as an escape from his tedious existence. ...read more.


Hamm uses the imperative form to command Clov "Get me ready, I'm going to 546692 EN1021, Reading Literature bed." The idea of dominant-submissive couples can also be found in Vladimir and Estragon in "Waiting for Godot" and Winnie and Willie in "Happy Days." One of the unspoken themes in the play is that having a companion helps lessen the pain of loneliness and despair. Beckett has compared Hamm and Clov's tense co-dependency to his own marriage; both expressed a desire to leave the other, but were too afraid to. The setting of Endgame is characteristic of a Beckett play, "bare interior." The naked and empty stage serves to represent the loneliness of the characters. The set forms a skull, with the two windows as eyes, the two ashbins as nostrils, and Hamm's central position as the mouth. "Left and right, high up, two small windows...front left...two ashbins. Center...Covered with an old sheet, Hamm." Before the play has started there is an eerie and sinister atmosphere created by the visual reminder of death. The continuous silences also add to the tense atmosphere. Pauses between speeches were unusual at the time for the French style of acting, however, the frequent pauses in the play, during the character's soliloquies, add to the feeling of emptiness represented by the bare and hostile set. "Can there be misery- (he yawns) - loftier than mine? No doubt. Formerly. But now?"(pause) my mother? (pause) my father? (pause)" ...read more.


Similarly the characters never exit the stage and so in the final scenes, the play does not achieve a sense of closure. The two acts end on a freeze frame and this achieves the desired effect of unnerving the audience, particularly in the very first performance of the play in the 1950's when the audience were left in silence, unsure how to act or respond. 546692 EN1021, Reading Literature As is often the case in literature, light represents life and darkness symbolises death. The lighting directions in "Endgame" instruct a "Grey light", and the "two small windows" on stage, show that the light reaching the characters is restricted and so an oppressive and sinister atmosphere is created. In this medium shade, the characters hope for life while living under death's gloom, "He takes off his glasses, wipes his eyes, his face, his glasses, puts them on again." Hamm is blind and so his glasses are no use to him, however, by continuing to wear them Hamm shows a vain hope for the future. Hamm can only see darkness and the bleak and dim atmosphere on stage shows that Hamm is alienated from the world; it is unknown and remote to him. In conclusion, the opening to "Endgame" is powerful and dramatic as the thought- provoking, key themes which will dominate the rest of the play are established along with the pitiful situation of the characters. Beckett also creates the atmosphere and tone for the rest of the play through the dull lighting, bare set and repetitive, broken language. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Hamlet section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Hamlet essays

  1. Portrayal of women in 'Hamlet'

    Feminist criticism looks at the 'silencing' of women as an important part of the play's meaning. Feminism also examines the responses of other audiences and artists to Gertrude and Ophelia, and how they have become, outside the play, symbols of women as victims, for example, in the painting entitled 'Ophelia', by John Everett Millais.

  2. The Portrayal of Shakespeare's Hamlet in Cinema

    the occasional oedipal tendencies are far too apparent for this theory to hold weight in my own interpretation of the play. Chapter Four Laurence Olivier's Hamlet, 1948 Despite Laurence Olivier's 1948 Hamlet being the most memorable and probably most famous portrayal on film, he played Hamlet on stage only once in 1937 at the Old Vic.

  1. In conclusion the attitudes towards women in the plays Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida and ...

    Therefore Rosalind would have been played by a male character, showing again the limitations of women. In conclusion the attitudes towards women in the plays Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida and As You Like It are that women are weak. This weakness is shown in different ways.

  2. Consider the significance of death and disease in 'The Duchess of Malfi' and 'The ...

    'Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel,/ Which smoked with bloody execution,/ Like Valour's minion carved out his passage.' (l. 17-19). This is about a previous battle which has been fought and although it uses these images it tells of the past rather than giving a glimpse of the future.

  1. Can we write about the tragedy of Hamlet in any meaningful fashion

    passivity, referring to himself as 'a rogue and peasant slave...a dull and muddy-mettle rascal... pigeon-liver'd". Hamlet's experience of life, up until now, has essentially been fictional. He appears to be mapping his extensive knowledge of literature onto life, perhaps trying to fit his own (more recent)

  2. Do you find Aristotle's notion of the tragic error or flaw helpful in understanding ...

    and the process of catharsis would not be able to take place. For Hamlet, to commit revenge is an act of self-definition. He does not know what he will become. Claudius as a Machiavel is governed by his own desire but that in itself is unstable.

  1. Many of the plays revolve around the central question of 'killing the King.' ...

    Cordelia, who is the only one not to comply with his wishes is quickly silenced by her disenfranchisement and subsequent banishment. Lear is to discover later however that things one does not wish to hear are not so easily banishable.

  2. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" Summary This poem, the earliest ...

    Eliot modernizes the form by removing the implied listeners and focusing on Prufrock's interiority and isolation. The epigraph to this poem, from Dante's Inferno, describes Prufrock's ideal listener: one who is as lost as the speaker and will never betray to the world the content of Prufrock's present confessions.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work