Endgame By Samuel Beckett Essay, Research Paper
As stated by Cohn in her article ” ‘Endgame’: The Gospel According to Sad Sam Beckett” there is much evidence given relating to the many comparable instances between the Bible and Beckett’s Endgame. With this interpretation as well as the discussion about the significance of the title, and the constant reference to the end of the world, it is nearly impossible to see Beckett’s Endgame as anything other than a post-apocalyptic tale. I found particularly interesting Cohn’s relation to Beckett’s Hamm and the Bible’s Ham. Ham being the son of Noah, as Cohn states, he is responsible for the survival of life. In the Bible, Ham obeys the wishes of his father, and thus God, and devoted his life to the expansion of humanity and the earth’s mere existence. As the Noah story tells, God, unhappy with the world, creates a mass flood that kills the entire world’s population, barring a male and a female of every species. This boatload of beings was to start the world anew, to try and make it a better place.
If Hamm is supposed to be a comparison to the Biblical Ham, could it not also be considered the Biblical Ham if things had gone wrong? Hamm, throughout the story welcomes the apocalypse, curses God and is contemptuous to his own existence. If the Biblical Ham had been his contemptuous person, could God not have sent yet another apocalypse to yet again end the world and try again? Is Beckett trying to say that it took more than one try for God himself to get it right?
I find this a much clearer reading then one of each character being part of the brain. The text supports this in many ways, most already supported by Cohn. Her evidence, however, lead me to this conclusion. Her description of the resurrections also works with this theory. The world had many resurrections, all in the pursuit of a better place. Basically I find this play an instance of “What if?” What if Ham (Biblical) had screwed up? What if God great plan of the flood did not work? I also find Beckett’s description of the small boy, the glimmer of hope, to be an image of a savior, possibly Jesus. This savior is another attempt by God to make a perfect world.
In relating this theory to that of the term “endgame” one can also determine that possible life, humanity is in a constant game with God, or some higher being. If humanity makes the right moves we will survive, if we mess up we lose, loss in death. But, however in an endgame situation the destined loser can only prolong the game. Therefore, through life and worship we are only prolonging our life that will eventually end up in death. This death throughout the game is the systematic picking off of one player at a time, until the last player is picked off, this may be shown in either day-to-day death or in an apocalyptic manner in which only few players are left. In the situation of the poem, the four characters remaining may be defined as the last players remaining in the game against God. Nagg and Nell, figuratively die when they each return into their pots and never speak again. Clov is leaving as the play ends, and Hamm is left for dead, checkmate. The boy on the horizon may also be seen as the next player in line, the new chance for humanity. It is very disheartening to think of life as this game we play with God. Beckett uses his farce and comedic devices to help sugar coat this message.
I find this play a very trying work to read and interpret. There are so many interpretations out there, which can all be supported in some way or another. However, I find the most support in the relations to Noah and Ham, and to the game of chess. Other interpretations may not wrong, but they may also be humanity’s way to avoid the true intended message, but only Beckett can say what he truly meant.