Waiting For Godot By Samuel Beckett Essay
, Research Paper
Samuel Beckett was born in Ireland in 1906. His family was both relatively well to do and fairly eccentric. Athletic and imposing,
Beckett was also awkward and socially maladjusted. This all comes to play in “Endgame” where we see the twisted remains of two
couples, interacting with a brutal vocabulary. Beckett’s early life is particularly linked to the exchanges between Nagg and Hamm;
ostensibly a father-son relationship that has ceased to be anything but an exchange of abuse.
In an early draft of “Fin de Partie,” the characters that became Hamm and Clov were clearly drawn as two French soldiers who were
hiding out during the First World War. There is the suggestion that some widespread catastrophe has occurred and the “room” in
which the play is set is some sort of bunker where there is refuge. Beckett fought in the First World War, so hints of his life are
all through the play. However, this is eventually paired down to the point that there is little or no indication of specific period
or occupation for the characters.
“Waiting for Godot” was in many ways a precursor for “Endgame.” Beckett once said that Hamm and Clov were Didi and Gogo. Later in
life, Beckett said that Hamm and Clov were many things at various times. Most notably, he said that they were himself and his wife,
Suzanne. There are several other interpretations of Clov and Hamm. For example, Clove as a clove on the ham that is Hamm and Hamm
as the son of Noah. Also “Hammlet.” Finally, Hamm as a hammer with Clov, Nagg and Nell as nails that he is pounding at.
There is ever indication that Beckett wrote “Fin de Partie” with the intention of it being a perfect play. He was going to use
everything that he had learned from “Waiting for Godot” to consciously create a work that would be tighter and structurally
flawless. “Fin de Partie” was written off and on over a period of almost nine years. It ended up taking Beckett a year to finish
the English translation of “Fin de Partie,” or “Endgame.” There are several indications that Beckett himself was eventually
convinced that “Endgame” was a superior text. First of all, he said so. Secondly, “Endgame” is shorter, and it has been said that
Beckett creates by minimizing and subtracting. If this is the case, then the late, shorter text is a further development.
After the play had been produced, Beckett took an active role in it. He was on hand for as many productions of it as possible,
always advising, sometimes directing. His notebooks from these productions show constant adjusting and tuning on a very minuscule
level. His satisfaction with the end result makes it clear that his work on it was extremely thorough and, even to Beckett’s
excessively self-critical mind, successful.
To summarize the meaning of the play in Beckett’s mind, he once wrote to Professor Yasunari Takahashi of Tokyo University. Prof.
Takahashi is a leading translator of Shakespeare and the only recognized translator of Beckett into Japanese. In the letter,
Beckett writes, “It is my intention to create as deep, wide and dark a gulf as is possible, between the stage and the audience and
then jump over it.”