by Samuel Beckett
Endgame Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue.
NELL(without lowering her voice)
Nothing is funnier than unhappiness, I grant you that. But—
Yes, yes, it's the most comical thing in the world. And we laugh, we laugh, with a will, in the beginning. But it's always the same thing. Yes, it's like a funny story we have heard too often, we still find it funny, but we don't laugh any more. (1.194-196)
What is funny about unhappiness? Who has a right to laugh at the unhappy? Do you need to understand what they are going through in order to laugh at them? What happens when the characters are too exhausted to laugh but the audience still does?
Things are livening up.
(He gets up on ladder, raises the telescope, lets it fall.)
I did it on purpose.
(He gets down, picks up the telescope, turns it on auditorium.)
I see…a multitude…in transports…of joy.
That's what I call a magnifier. (1.298)
How does Clov's joke suggest that the audience is somehow implicit in their situation? Imagine yourself as an audience member: how does it make you feel to have Clov judging your general attitude?
CLOV(anguished, scratching himself)
I have a flea!
A flea! Are there still fleas?
On me there's one.
Unless it's a crablouse.
But humanity might start from there all over again! Catch him, for the love of God! I'll go and get the powder.
A flea! This is awful. What a day!
(Enter Clov with sprinkling-tin.)
I'm back again, with the insecticide.
Let him have it.
(Clov loosens the top of his trousers, pulls it forward and shakes powder into the aperture. He stoops, looks, waits, starts, frenziedly shakes more powder, stoops, looks, waits.) (1.346-353)
This is pretty much the most action we get in the entire play. Do Hamm and Clov seem happier here than at almost any other point in the play? As an audience member, is it easier to sympathize with the two of them here or when they are complaining about how miserable their situation is?