Endgame by Samuel Beckett

Topics: Existentialism, Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev Pages: 4 (1186 words) Published: April 22, 2001
The mood and attitude of Samuel Beckett's 1957 play, Endgame, are reflective of the year of its conception. The history that reflects directly on the play itself is worth sole attention. In that year, the world was a mixed rush of Cold War fear, existential reason, and race to accomplishment (Garraty 307). Countries either held a highlighted concern with present wartime/possibility of war, or involvement with the then sprouting movement of Existentialism. The then "absurdist theater" reflected the values and concerns of the modern society (Petty). The accomplishments of man, such as the Soviet launching of both Sputnik satellites, sparked international competition. 1957 was not a year of unification and worldly brotherhood, it was a time that pushed for individual accomplishment and responsibility. The world Endgame describes is a post-apocalyptic nightmare. There is a dwindling supply of pain medication and food, and most of the natural resources have utterly disappeared. Gulls, sawdust and even sunlight has ceased to exist "(Klaus 453-487). The inhabitants of this world are waiting for death, as it seems inevitable, and no longer hold to the hope of salvation. Even the dialogue produces a sense of sterility, being that Hamm and Clov believe they are the specks of life left on the planet. References to death are scattered throughout the play. As Jacques Lemarchand described it, "this may be the very game we play all the time, without ever believing it to be as close as it is to its end" (Klaus 484). The metaphor for death or coming to the "end" is referred to in the first lines of the play as Clov says, "Finished, it's nearly finished, it must be nearly finished" (Klaus 465).

In the real world, the threat of nuclear war gave the people of both America and the Soviet Union a raw realization of the possibility of a barren and dead world, such as the world in Endgame. In Russia in 1957, it was noted that the "big guns" were as equally belonging to...
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