The father and son relationship in "Endgame" by Samuel Beckett

Essay by jojozhao March 2006

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"Endgame", as one of Samuel Beckett's most famous plays, describes the ritual small routines of lives of four people who are living in a bare, partially underground room. The title "Endgame" is taken from the last part of a chess game when there are very few pieces left, which implies those four people's life would end soon. By showing the complex relationships between four people, the play expresses family dysfunction and codependence. They do not like each other, but they are dependent on each other to live. In the play, it can be identified three father-son relationships, "Nagg and Hamm", "Hamm and Clov", and "The beggar and his son".

"Nagg and Hamm" is the most obvious father-son relationship in the play. Each of them has one long monologue while the other one is listening. From these two monologues, we know that Hamm always like to talk to his father Nagg, but Nagg does not like to listen to him.

When Hamm was young, Hamm woke Nagg up when frightened in the dark and had Nagg listen to him. At that time, Nagg was "as happy as a king", because their father-son relationship was really close. As time went by, Hamm became the king of the small shelter whereas his father Nagg lived in a garbage can. At this time, all Nagg could do is begging for food, because they almost lost their father-son relationship. However, even like that, they still rely on each other. Nagg needs food from Hamm and Hamm needs Nagg listen to his unnecessary speech.

"Hamm and Clov" are locked into some kind of interminable relationship displeasing to both of them: Hamm keeps Clov on as his servant because "There's no one else," and Clov stays on because "There's nowhere else". Their relationship is...