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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Endgame. Samuel Beckett

i want to start off by saying this isn't horriblely well written, but neither are any of the other posts on here. it is just my thoughts on the play Endgame by Samuel Beckett

Ireland will be incapable of becoming a nation or developing its own traditions as long as England has control and refuses to allow the Irish to explore their past. England and Ireland are co-dependent which continues purely because of manipulation so that both countries feel they cannot function without the other. This co-dependency prevents Ireland from moving forward as a country and developing for the betterment of the people. Through manipulation of language and identity, Samuel Beckett’s Endgame condemns the co-dependency which paralyzes Ireland; only when the dialog ends can Ireland form its own identity.
The theme of Irish identity is manifested throughout Endgame, Hamm represents England and Clov Ireland. Hamm controls Clov much like England dominates the Irish. The characters cannot remember their past because before separating from England, Ireland had no past, only what had been created for it by other countries. Clov uses the British language and phrases that he was taught even though he is Irish. When Hamm comments on how he speaks, Clov responds:
Clov.Violently. that means that bloody awful day, long ago,
Before this bloody awful day. I use the words you taught me. If they don’t mean
anything more, teach me others. Or let me be silent
Hamm has influenced who Clov is and how he speaks. Because Hamm is British and has raised Clov since he was a small child, he has endowed phrases and British traits upon Clov, an Irishman. Hamm manipulates Clov into being a different version of himself: an Irish Brit.
Beckett condemns the co-dependency that exists between Hamm and Clov as well as between England and Ireland, which prevents Clov from moving on and forming his own identity away from Hamm, “Even the outlines of Hamm and Clov are one line; they are denied the individuation of a tidily independent monad. They cannont live without each other” (Theodor W. Adorno) The two rely on each other because they have disfigured each other and have created a paralysis for themselves. Neither will move forward because the other inhibits progression. The dependence is such that the two feel that without the other neither can exist,
Hamm. Gone from me you’d be dead
Clov. And vice versa.
Hamm. Outside of here it’s death!
Hamm convinces Clov that without him he would be unable to function in the world. This domineering relationship comes from the British mercilessly controlling the Irish and not allowing them to form their own identities. Even England is depend on Ireland, and this is the reason it cannot let Ireland sever all ties and govern itself, “Hamm and Clov’s perpetual co-dependecy is what keeps Endgame going…” the story continues despite the fact that neither character truly needs the other to exist. It is this paralysis which Beckett condemns, neither party moving on despite the lack or reason to stay. Hamm wishes to prove to Clov that Clov is unable to move on by taunting him by not feeding him and saying it is only he who knows the combination to the food safe; therefore, Clov needs Hamm in order to survive
Hamm. No! Clov halts I’ll give you one biscuit per day.Pause. One and a half
While Clov depends on Hamm for food, Hamm depends on Clov to do everything else for him. Politically, England barely fave enough food to the Irish, just enough to sustain them; yet, England relied on Ireland to produce for them and export everything so that England could benefit. The relationship between England and Ireland remains, much like the co-dependency of Hamm and Clov despite the lack of food and all other necessary provisions; the only thread keeping the co-dependency alive is the paralysis of tireless conversations and demands.
Hamm uses manipulation to keep the co-dependency alive through language. Clov wants to leave Hamm, but Hamm will not let him as long as there is dialog.
Clov. I’ll leave you.
Hamm. NO!
Clov. What is there to keep me here?
Hamm. The dialogue.
Hamm utilizes the meaningless dialog and conversation to maintain control over Clov. By repeating the same dialog day in and day out for years, Clov is given no room to explore any other area of conversation or thoughts; therefore, he can only think what Hamm tells him to think. In retarding the conversations, Hamm keeps Clov from developing his own identity, one completely separate from the one Hamm has created for him.
The two characters tell the same stories, ask the same questions, and have the same conversations repeatedly, to the point where the questions and responses are memorized,
Clov. Wearily. Same answer. Pause.
You’ve asked me these questions millions of times.
Hamm. I love the old questions. With fevour.Ah the old questsions, the old
answers, there’s nothing like them! It was I was a father to you
Hamm swells on the old questions because it is his way of maintain control over CLov; if there are no new questions, conversations, or mmemory, then there is no way of CLov breaking away and leaving, “…always making sure to remind CLov of his dependence on Hamm…”. Empty dialog and frivolous conversations are a means of maintinating the co-dependency. Hamm constantly reminds Clov of how he has provided for him since he was a small boy, thus reinforcing the co-dependency. Likewise, England prides itself on having always taken care of Ireland since it was a small nation first starting out. Due to England ruling Ireland for so long, the argument made by the British people in Ireland has never ruled itself; therefore, it is unable to function without England such that England forces Ireland’s dependency upon England.
In order for Clov to break the co-dependency which continues, he must see for himself what possibilities there are for him to create his own identity. Until this protion of the play, Clov has blindly accepted Hamm’s view and warning of what are in the world, despite Hamm’s lack of eyesight. Clov defines Hamm when he looks through the telescope and sees a small boy. Upon this discovery, he tells Hamm he will go and see the boy to which Hamm replies
Hamm. If he exists he’ll die there or he’ll come here.
And if he doesn’t…Pause.
Clov. You don’t believe me? You think I’m incenting? Pause.
Hamm. It’s the end, Clov, we’ve come to the end. I don’t need you anymore
By seeing for himself what is in the world and not simply repeating what Hamm says he sees, Clov breaks the co-dependency and is able to leave Hamm. In so doing, Clov leaves behind Irish paralysis.
Both Clov and Hamm recognize that their dependency has come to an end. Hamm does not ask Clov to stay, being a question and answer game, or tell a story which he has told many times before. Instead, he asks Clov for departing words which are his own, thus recognizing that Clov is to form his own identity and not be merely a puppet for Hamm,
Clov. This is what we call making an exit.
For Clov to finally leave Hamm behind, Beckett is announcing to the Irish that it is time to leave England behind. England has never allowed Ireland to rule itself because England depends on Ireland to make money for the country and because England gain so much from Ireland. Beckett antagonizes irish paralysis which is brough on by the co-dependency of England and Ireland. Beckett’s distain for such a freeze in progression is manifested within Endgame and the relationship of Hamm and Clov. From the way the play ends, it is clear that Beckett is convering Ireland and must break away from British rule in order to form its own identity and begin to shape a history which is entirely its own. Throughout the play, Hamm tells many stories, all of which are his view and his memories. Because of this, Clov adopts these stories as his own and has no past or identity; he only has what Hamm defines him to have based on Hamm’s stories. For Clov to form his own history and identity, he must break away from the co-dependency which has been created for him. Accordingly, Ireland must for its own identiy and break away from England.