Endgame

In Endgame, Samuel Beckett uses bizarre dialogue and characters to critique Western Civilization. Though the overall absurdity of the piece is very jarring, a few specific points stick out that seem to provide a particularly harsh critique of history. The character Hamm is responsible for these moments, in phrases that he says over and over. For example, he asks repeatedly, “Is it time for my painkiller?” Though it’s hard to be sure, perhaps Beckett is commenting on the constant desire for comfort and pleasure in the West. After having been through two World Wars, this desire for comfort is understandable. However, a painkiller does not just provide comfort; its primary purpose is to numb. Hamm repeatedly asking for his painkiller resembles the West’s desire for numbness after several decades of extreme pain. In a similar vein, Hamm also asks, “Will it never end?” (2588). Perhaps this question mirrors the hopelessness that Beckett sees in the West. Because of the overall mocking tone of the play, he seems to be also mocking the hopelessness.

Endgame is extremely different from The Waste Land, in that it doesn’t rely as much on historical and real life events. Yes, there are a few allusions to geographical places, but for the most part, the play remains focused on an otherworldly, absurd setting. Because of the absurdity, it is even more difficult than The Waste Land to comprehend, a piece which at least used concrete examples from humanity to make its point. 

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2 thoughts on “Endgame

  1. I too found it interesting that one of Beckett’s only mentioning of time was found in the repetitve request for painkillers. I do think it symbolizes attitudes of numbness prevalent in the society of the day.

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