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Endgame

Endgame

by Samuel Beckett

Endgame Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Language and Communication

One of the most quoted lines in Endgame is when Clov asks Hamm what there is at Hamm's house to keep him from leaving. Hamm responds, "The dialogue" (1.582). Dialogue in the play is the way that th...

Compassion and Forgiveness

That there is not a whole lot of compassion and forgiveness in Endgame. For the most part, the characters are extremely cruel to one another. Hamm bosses Clov around constantly and curses his fathe...

Isolation

Complete isolation is the ultimate threat in Endgame. It is a large part of what keeps Clov from leaving Hamm, and it is what keeps Hamm clinging to Clov and Nagg. There is, in a sense, competition...

Defeat

Let's start with a question. Is defeat something that is defined subjectively or objectively? Is defeat a state of mind or is something that can be determined based on the facts surrounding a parti...

Suffering

If you read more of Beckett's work, you will find that every single one of his characters is, in one way or another, suffering. In his mid-twenties, when Beckett was suffering from severe depressio...

Perseverance

Perseverance may not be quite the right word for this theme in Endgame, and you'll find that at other points in this guide, we use the word "endurance." The thing is, perseverance implies the possi...

Pride

In Endgame, the character Hamm, in particular, oozes vanity. He claims to have once been a sort of monarch. In the present, he is blind and wheelchair-bound, completely dependent on other people. Y...

Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd

Beckett often gets classed in the "Theater of the Absurd." Beckett himself disliked the label. He disliked it because it sounded like he had a thesis about life (i.e., Life is absurd). For Beckett,...

Life, Consciousness, Existence

Beckett was extremely taken with what it meant to be alive – to exist. He was particularly interested in what it meant to exist in a world that seemed to resist any search for meaning to one'...
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