Absurdity in Beckett’s Endgame
Bucket’s “Endgame” explores an existence in an era when the importance of being Is Incessantly challenged by man’s newfound recognition of the universes absurdity and lack of observable meaning, Written In 1957, the context of the world at the time of this works creation sheds much insight on its themes. In a time of continuous social and technological change scientific observations began yielding a more accurate picture of causality for the world and its phenomena; and the concept of god became ever less relevant. The recent world wars had left ruins in not only cities, but in the concepts driving the nature of man.
With the Implicit destruction of deities and sets of traditional rules to govern man’s behavior, humanity found Itself at a need to define a different purpose to Its existence. Enter existentialism: A belief in existence despite any discernible meaning, existence for its own sake; heralding with it an implied freedom of choice in both perception and action. As with the then contemporary world view, the characters in Bucket’s “Endgame” are left to survive in the wake of a crumbled world. Free to devise their own world view, the characters respond by developing life affirming routines – mistreating that creation persists even In destruction.
Destruction, It would seem does not eliminate an object or Idea, but only redefines its form, beginning its existence anew. Rather ironically, the play begins with Cool repeating the world “finished”. Consequently, this theme of beginnings and endings as interrelated, cyclical, mutually necessary, and conclusively futile comes to prevail over the course of the play. As with the classic case of the chicken and the egg, the cyclical pattern of creation and destruction is eternal In Its supposed nature.
However, to the AOL of Inciting drama or motivation, a story must begin with destruction; a motif with which “Endgame” is rife. The very setting of the play Immediately evokes a sense of catastrophe and destruction. The lifeless “bare interior (Endgame, 50) is coupled with the “nothing” or “zero” (Endgame, 51) reported outside by Cool to Imply at the decay of a once lively outside world; while the imagery of the stage as a skull (with the two windows acting as eyes and the characters as the thoughts) denote the destruction within.
During this unmentioned catastrophe, the characters saw the end f their entire world and way of life; thus being forced to redefine their views and behaviors. The destruction of their past worlds leads the characters to abandon their old ideals and ways of life. The bastardly He doesn’t exist. ” exclaimed Ham when his prayer went unanswered; showing that even god had died in the wake of Ham’s personal disaster. However, these new circumstances work to effectively create a new world for the characters to inhabit – a world as senseless as the last.
Whether It Is the story about the tailor, which coupled the end of a period of walling he beginning of the world, Ham and Clove’s killing the flea from which they believe humanity may have been reborn (Endgame, 591 or the numerous references to Christ, whose death (and subsequent rebirth) – destructive and creative motifs in Bucket’s “Endgame” are presented in tandem. Interestingly, the cyclical nature of life and death renders itself generally nonsensical and pointless.
Surely, if all is to end to be reborn anew then a personally crafted purpose will ultimately remain as to exemplify this notion of a circular existence, with many motifs of rebirth such as Cool always returning. In their awareness of death (their own destruction), Bucket’s characters foster eternally static routines that they hope will distract them from their imminent demise. They go through the “… This farce, day after day” (Endgame, 54), as Nell puts it, because there is nothing else to do but delay the inevitable while they wait.
To that end, Becket makes use of repetitive language to denote the futility and repetitiveness of the cyclical nature of life. The play systematically notes upon and enunciates the characters minutest movements, and repeats their most casual interests: from Ham’s insistence on remaining at the center of the room (Endgame, 57); to how many pauses Ham takes in his speech; to how Nell repeats herself to Nag, as in the case of “April afternoon” (Endgame, 56) . “Let’s my dream. A world where all would be silent and still, and each thing in its last place, under the last dust. ” (Endgame, 66) says Cool, expressing a desire for order.
Yet Cloves constant tidying seems to have no end in sight; especially if he were to direct his efforts to the destruction outside. This tidy end of which Cool dreams would only yield disappointment as he would have no cleaning duty to occupy him and upon achieving it, his life would again become meaningless. In such a way, Cloves vision provides meaning to his trudge, which would otherwise dissipate upon achieving his goal. This focus on repetitive actions that delay the inevitable prohibits the discernment of meaning from these same actions, since there is never a final culmination to assess.
Still, even the one example of a final product, is by no means fulfilling. “Look at the world and look – at my TROUSERS. ” (Endgame, 56) Says the tailor in Knell’s story, as if to belittle the bounty of the world (tongue in cheek, of ours) in the face the quality of his pants. In this case, as in the case of the characters death delaying routine, no amount of postponement will have made the end result worthy. As such, the play essentially stresses a “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t” scenario by showing how any action will eventually be absolved in futility.
The theme of futility ties into the very initial metaphor for ends in beginnings: As Cool mutters “Finished, it’s finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished. Grain upon grain, one by one, and one day, suddenly, there’s a heap, a little heap, the impossible heap. (Endgame, 50), he effectively questions when individual grains live up to the concept of a “heap. ” From this perspective, the heap is an “impossible” notion, as any single grain is not in itself a heap, and a “heap” is Just an accumulation of single grains.
This view resurfaces yet again, when Ham considers how individual moments make up a life (Endgame, 70). In this instance the analogy maintains that it is an “impossible” life, consisting not of a life that can be scrutinized as a goal achieved (or not), but of discrete moments that define it (before death terminates it indefinitely). Thus, any creation of meaning incurred during one’s life, is presented as ultimately pointless – and only leading to its own destruction with the passing of its believers.
While Ham and Cool are in the “endgame” of their ancient lives, with death lurking around the corner, they are also stuck in a perpetual loop that never allows the to achieve closure. Ham claims he wants to be “finished,” but admits that he “hesitate[s]” to do so (Endgame, 51). “We’re not beginning to… To… Mean something? “, Ham wonders, only to be ridiculed by Cool in response him deeply aware of its lack of purpose. Since any ending is also a beginning, there is never any finality, and conclusive meaning is impossible.
Besides, any meaning derived would be as shallow as the meaning left behind; while only persisting as long as its belabored. The very expression of Ham’s question exemplifies this very struggle; where he delays and repeats words as he attempts to finish the sentence – only to have it become a meaningless gesture in the eyes of Cool. Cool, though aware of the world’s absurdity must still subscribe to routine. He adheres to the daily procedures of tending to Ham and thus makes it the purpose of his life.
Just as death wont arrive to conclude their lives, neither Ham nor Cool can escape existence in catheters presence. Such is the case with Clove’s frequent failed attempts to leave the room and Ham’s insistence on squashing the flea that might herald with it the human race; the characters appear to fear the destruction of their current realm of existence in favor of another for fear of the new world being worse still. It is consequently implied that the characters loathe the thought of reincarnation into this world; particularly being personally resurrected after death only to face life again.
Thus they make an effort to kill all potential propagators of meaningless life such as the “procreators” that they seek to kill (Endgame, 73), or the incident with the flea the flea: “But humanity might start from there all over again! Catch him, for the love of God! ” (Endgame, 59) screams Ham, in chase of the flea. In exploring the cyclical nature of destruction and creation, “Endgame” notes on the futility inherent to the process. The cyclical nature of destruction and creation is rendered meaningless by the very definition of its continuity.
Seeing the meaning seep from their previous existence, the characters come to realism that any new purpose will be as unfailing and mortal as the last. In the process of finding purpose in an existence doomed to meaningless, the characters come to occupy their time with senseless repetition that they both despise, and require. In true existentialist fashion, they deem all actions pointless, but are unwilling to stop making them while they still can. This play goes to show that meaning is what you make of it, and that there are no winners at the end of this absurd game called life.