Composers and their stage works 


(Fin de Partie)

Samuel Beckett

Play, 1 act. Published 1957. Produced London, Royal Court Theatre, Apr. 3, 1957; Paris, Studio des Champs Elysées, May 2, 1957.

Endgame is a considerably more static play; by comparison, Waiting for Godot seems to abound in dramatic action. All the relationships represented by the four characters in the earlier work are here contained in Hamm and Clov, who are simultaneously friends, master and slave, and perhaps father and son, and Nagg and Nell, an old husband and wife who remain fixed throughout in their respective ashcans. In Waiting for Godot dramatic contrast is provided by the fact that while Gogo and Didi cannot leave, Pozzo and Lucky cannot stay. In Endgame, Clove cannot sit, and Hamm cannot stir from his wheelchair in which Clov pushes him. The setting is no longer an open plain but a closed room; the characters are no longer waiting since there is nothing left to wait for. Clov threatens to desert Hamm but seems unable or unwilling to face alone whatever may be outside. The "endgame" appears to have resulted in a stalemate.

The play opens as Clov ritualistically draws the curtains of two high, small windows, then removes dust sheets from the ashcans and from Hamm's wheelchair. After that, Hamm and Clov converse about finality, their fading view and failing health, love, and suffering. Nagg's request for biscuits is presently answered by Nell's appearance in her ashcan. Husband and wife chat about their deteriorating senses and chuckle over the accident that cost them their legs. Nagg tells Nell a story reflecting on the sorry state of God's world. Hamm and Clov busy themselves in a round of uninspired actions such as making a tour of the room, staring out the window, and killing an insect. Hamm bribes Nagg with the promise of plums to listen to his story about a man seeking shelter for his son after a world holocaust; he then receives his father's curses when he confesses that he has no plums. Nell dies, and Clov conducts Hamm on another slow tour of the room. Clov threatens to leave and makes elaborate preparations for his departure. But at the closing curtain, Clov still stands motionless at the door, while Hamm, his face veiled in a bloody handkerchief, also remains indifferent and immobile.