Samuel Beckett’s 'Endgame': The continuation of 'Waiting for Godot'?

Seminar Paper, 2001

17 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of Contents

1. Procedure of Analysis

2. Setting

3. Composition of Characters
3.1 Vladimir and Estragon
3.2 Pozzo and Lucky
3.3 Hamm and Clov
3.4 Nagg and Nell

4. Nothing to be done

5. Nothing to be said

6. Ending the Waiting Game

7. Conclusion

1. Procedure of Analysis

This peace of work deals with the question, whether Beckett’s Endgame is a continuation of Waiting for Godot. In order to answer it, both plays will be compared to work out similarities as well as differences; Godot will function as a basis and startingpoint for interpretation, that will then turn towards Endgame for comparison to come to a conclusion. Main features of the drama ,such as plot, setting, characters, action, language and time, will be involved in this procedure of analysis. To a certain extent, this approach towards the two plays will also be related to the historical context of Postmodernism and the philosophical background of Existentialism, as well as to characteristics of the Theatre of the Absurd or the Expressionist Theatre.

2. Setting

In Godot, the characters are put into a sparsely populated, external set, the only accessories to a country road are a tree and a low mound (cf.G: p.5). This simple and abstract scenery, which is typical of the Expressionist Theatre or the Theatre of the Absurd to create an effect of alienation, reflects and supports the emptiness of the dialogues, the hopeless plan of Vladimir and Estragon to meet Godot and their never ending wait. Instead, Endgame seems to be different: It owns an inner set, a simple room that is filled with a lot of things, the dustbins of Nagg and Nell, Hamm’s chair, the ladder, the two windows and so on, and there is an assumed kitchen, that cannot be seen by the audience[1]. Nevertheless this setting can be understood as a continuation of the one in Godot. There seems to be nothing left in the world, there is probably no country-road and no tree anymore, so this simple inner setting offers the characters a last possibility of escaping from the world outside, that seems to be dead and burned out: There is no more nature, seeds do not grow anymore (cf.E: p.24) and the sunlight has been replaced by a “light black” (E: p.46). Everything around Hamm and Clov is fading away, for example Mother Pegg or the doctor have died (cf.E: p.38). But the setting also reflects the situation, that the characters have to face: The decline of the world outside, that creeps into their home as well. Everything that would make life more endurable, such as sufficient food or medicine, is constantly running out, and all characters suffer from a kind of physical illness

or pain: Hamm is blind and can’t stand up, Clov isn’t able to sit down and his eyes and legs are “bad” (E: p.16), and Nagg and Nell have no legs, they can hardly see and their hearing is also very bad (cf.E: p.26).

3. Composition of Characters

In the plays Waiting for Godot and Endgame, the characters show typical features of those of the postmodernist drama, they are somehow social outcasts and are representative for all mankind. They can be classified into pairs of related couples, whose relationships are based on “mutual antagonism and mutual dependence”[2].

3.1 Vladimir and Estragon

Vladimir and Estragon are a very closely linked couple. They are two people, that are extremely dependent on each other and their relationship can be compared to symbols for body and mind that build a whole together. Vladimir, or in short called Didi, is rather representing the act of thinking and the mind, whereas Estragon, or Gogo, personifies physical things and the body. For instance, Estragon is always claiming about his terribly hurting feet, that are “swelling visibly”(G: p.9)[3], and constantly requests something to eat from his companion, like the carrots (G: p.19). He also asks Pozzo for the bones to gnaw off the meat from them (G: p.29). Vladimir is the one, who cares for Estragon and provides him with turnips or carrots. Additionally, he seems to provide him with pieces of recollection about the past as well, for example their stay in the Macon country (G: p.71), which Gogo doesn’t remember because his memory is very bad, he “forget(s) everything” (G: p.57). Another evidence for Vladimir as the thinking and spiritual part of the two is, that he wants Lucky to think, but Estragon wishes, that Lucky should perform a dance, that he should take physical action (G: p.45). Furthermore, Vladimir questions the credibility of the reports of the four Evangelists about one of the thieves having been saved or not (G: p.10). Estragon, in contrast, tends to turn away from such thoughts and from reality: The former poet (G: p.9) prefers to escape into his dreams, while he is sleeping. Didi as the rational part, however, always stays awake, perhaps not to miss their appointment with Mr. Godot by oversleeping. These are only a few examples, that reveal the evidently dependence between Vladimir and Estragon; like body and mind, they cannot be separated and have to stick together. They cannot part, although, throughout the whole play, they plan to do so. Both are also in need of the other, because they are somehow so used to stay together: They feel worse, when they are with each other, but nevertheless, they cannot stand separation, as Vladimir states, “I missed you (...) and at the same time I was happy.” (G: p.67), when he and Estragon had parted for the night. Sometimes there seems to be at least a kind of warmth between them, when they embrace each other (e.g. G: p.67), although this action can also be taken as a proof for themselves, that they are existing and are sharing their thoughts and fears with someone.

3.2 Pozzo and Lucky

The second related couple in Godot, Pozzo and Lucky, shows similar features of dependence. Pozzo is the sadistic master of Lucky, his servant and “submissive slave”[4]. He is tormenting Lucky all the time, what offers him a great satisfaction, and is insulting him for instance as “pig” (G: p.29) or “hog” (G: p.46). An obvious sign for the dependence of Lucky, later additionally for that of the blind Pozzo, is the rope by which he is linked with his master (G: p.22). Whenever Pozzo wants Lucky to do something or when he simply wants to hurt him, he rudely pulls the rope. As a result, Lucky’s neck shows “a running sore” (G: p.27), but nevertheless, he does everything to please his master. He even doesn’t put the luggage down “to impress” him and to be able to stay with him, because Pozzo has enough of Lucky and wants to sell him at a fair (G: p.34). In his cruelty, Pozzo himself thinks, that this would be a noble act compared to just “kicking him out” (G: p.35). In general, Pozzo likes to present himself as a glorious person in various stories and is always seeking the absolute attention of his surrounders, when he is talking (“Is everybody looking at me? Is everybody listening?”, G: p.33). When Pozzo and his servant first meet Vladimir and Estragon, Pozzo seems to be dependent on Lucky only in the respect, that he carries his luggage at the moment, but he has many other slaves and Lucky is not a sufficient carrier for him (cf.G: p.34). But when the two couples meet again, the situation has changed: Now Pozzo, who has become blind, has absolutely to rely on Lucky’s help and his guidance (cf.G: p.102). Now, the rope enables Pozzo to follow Lucky and is no longer only an instrument of torture as before. The fact, that it is a shorter one, may symbolize the closer connection between Pozzo and Lucky and their increased dependence on each other. Lucky also has become even more dependent on his master, because “one day” he went dumb (G: p.106), whereas before he was at least able to think when he was told to. The two characters can be classified in a so-called hand-and-glove-pattern. They belong and fit together like a hand and a glove over it, Pozzo being the hand and Lucky his instrument, his glove, to carry out his intentions and plans.


[1] Cf. Harold Bloom (ed.), Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 81997) 125.

[2] G. C. Barnard, Samuel Beckett: A New Approach, (London: J. M. Dent & Sons LTD, 31971) 89.

[3] Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot, ed. Manfred Pfister, (Stuttgart: Reclam, 81999) 9.

All further references taken from this volume will be given immediately in the text as follows: (G: p.xy).

[4] Harold Bloom (ed.), Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 101996) 29.

Excerpt out of 17 pages


Samuel Beckett’s 'Endgame': The continuation of 'Waiting for Godot'?
University of Regensburg  (Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik)
Proseminar: From Modernism to Postmodernism
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Samuel, Beckett’s, Endgame, Waiting, Godot, Proseminar, From, Modernism, Postmodernism
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Patrizia Demleitner (Author), 2001, Samuel Beckett’s 'Endgame': The continuation of 'Waiting for Godot'?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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