Samuel Beckett, Endgame Essay

November 1, 2020 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jul 5th, 2019

Samuel Beckett wrote the play by the name Endgame in the year 1958. The play centers on the effects of apocalyptic disaster on Hamm’s family (Beckett 713). In the play, Hamm, Clov, Nagg, and Nell are trapped in single room. Having been trapped, the four characters are forced to carry on with their everyday chores. Notably, the survival of the four individuals depends on their ability to work together.

Based on the events that unfold in the play, Endgame can be interpreted pessimistically and optimistically. In this regard, this article seeks to analyze the probable reasons for such opposing reactions. The play begins with a pessimistic tone (Beckett 713). Despite being daytime, the room is lit with minimal light. The windows are depicted as being small and elevated.

Equally, the picture hanged on the wall is not visible. The author points out that the sheets covering the ashbins are old. The phrase emphasizing on the age of the sheets is repeated to reinforce a negative attitude about the room. In general, the pictures depicted on the first scene make the play pessimistic.

Equally, the sense of pessimistic future is depicted through the author’s use of clocks. The author uses sunset as a natural clock. Sunset indicates the end of 12-hour period. In the play, the sun does not fall and emits gray radiations. Usually, the rising and falling of the sun indicates hope and renewal of continuous cycle. However, in the play the sun does not fall representing the destruction of hope in the future.

As the play progresses, the author enhances the play’s pessimistic tone when Hamm asks Clov to terminate his life to end his sufferings (Beckett 720). Hamm considers himself useless because of his state and does not see any reason for him being alive. He relates how he has been poor in the past to the extent that he walked barefoot. As Clov is about to leave for the Kitchen, Hamm expresses his disappointment with Clov for leaving him.

He warns Clov that if she leaves him, she would not manage to survive on her own. As illustrated above, the play can be interpreted as pessimistic but a closer examination of the play reveals that it is optimistic. Throughout the play, no one is satisfied about his or her situation. Nell and Nagg regard their precedent time as happy lives, while Hamm longs for the day he will be able to see again.

Clov is optimistic that one day he will begin a new life in a place far away from Hamm’s home. This illustrates that even though the characters are suffering, there are optimistic about their future. Similarly, the author expresses optimism when Hamm asks Clov to forgive him for subjecting him to torture. At this moment, Beckett illustrates a relieved Hamm who had earlier been harsh to Clov.

When Hamm sees movement in Clov’s legs, he becomes optimistic that Clov will one day be able to move despite their miserable conditions. In the same scene, Hamm requests for his painkillers twice with hope that the drugs would reduce his pains. The story of the tailor narrated by Nagg depicted the Englishman as optimistic. The tailor made a promise to his customer that he would make him a pair of trousers in four days’ time.

After the four days elapsed, the customer came for the pair of trousers as prompted earlier. On his arrival, he was disappointed because the tailor had not fulfilled his promise. The tailor apologized for the inconveniences and promised that he would be through with the task in the next few days. This went on for three months as the man kept showing up regularly.

Although, the Englishman was disappointed with the tailor, he was optimistic each time he went to confirm on the completion of his pair of trousers. Nagg tells Nell the story to keep her optimistic that one day, just like the Englishman, their suffering would end. Finally, the author enhances the theme of optimism in the final scene when Clov looks outside through the telescope and realizes that the situation was getting better (Beckett 732).

He explains his vision as having seen many people moving and expresses certainty that these were happy. In this scene, hope is enhanced among the characters signifying that their tribulations were ending. In conclusion, it is apparent that Beckett portrays both optimism and pessimism themes in the play. Both themes have been enhanced by the characters’ acts.

For instance, in some scenes the characters are optimistic that their lives would improve for the better. In the contrary, some scenes portray the characters as pessimistic about their future lives. In these scenes, the same characters express their unlucky situations by seeing a bleak future and unchanging conditions. Through this twist of events, the author manages to make the play fascinating and humorous. Endgame might appear to be pessimistic play, but with scrutiny, a reader will discover the opposite.


Beckett, Samuel. Endgame. London: Faber and Faber, 2009. Print.

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