- How does Endgame represent an expression of the theatre of
- What does Beckett accomplish through the repetition of the language
of "the end"?
- How does the play imploy parody of Christian language?
- Is it more productive to view Beckett as a modernist or
- How should the comedy of Endgame be evaluated?
I. Theatre of the Absurd (Definitions)
absurd: "a term applied to the sense that human
beings, cut off from their roots, live in meaningless isolation in an alien
universe. Based on a form of existentialism that views human beings as moving from
the nothingness from which they came to the nothingness in which they will end through an
existence marked by anguish and absurdity. They live in a world in which there is no
way to establish a significant relationship between themselves and their environment"
theater of the absurd: A kind of drama that presents a view
of the absurdity of the human condition by the abandoning of usual or rational devices and
by the use of nonrealisitic form. Conceived in perplexity and spiritual anguish, the
theatre of the absurd portrays not a series of connected incidents telling a story but a
pattern of images presenting people as bewildered beings in an incomprehensible
"black" humor: the use of the morbid and the
absurd for darkly comic purposes in modern literature. The term refers as much to
the tone of anger and bitterness as it does to the grotesque and morbid situations, which
often deal with suffering, anxiety, and death."
[All the above are taken from Harmon and Holman, A Handbook to
Literature 7th ed.]
II. The Language of the End/Finish
Click here to look at the passages from
Beckett's play dealing with "the end" or "the finish". What is
the effect of reading these? What do they suggest about Beckett's use of repetition
III. The Parody of Christian Language
Click here to look at some of the passages
from Beckett's play that are parodies of Christian language. Along with these one
should consider the language of "It is finished" and 'the end" from above,
the general profane references to God and Christ muttered by the characters, the meaning
of Hamm as a biblical name, the general use of light and darkness, and the purpose of the
small boy that Clov sees and who enables him to leave Hamm.
IV. Modernist or Post-modernist?
The (dis)connection between modernism and post-modernism can also be
seen not as two discrete movements, but as two poles of an experience. Where on the
continuum is Beckett's Endgame most productively placed?