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Theatre / Endgame

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Clov: Do you believe in the life to come?
Hamm: Mine was always that.

An absurdist one-act tragicomedy by Samuel Beckett, Endgame is perhaps his best known work that isn't Waiting for Godot. Taking place in a desolate post-apocalyptic world, the play is focused on a single household. Hamm is blind and cannot stand, while his servant Clov cannot sit. Hamm's parents Nagg and Nell live with them in a pair of ash bins, and both have lost their legs. They all lead miserable lives and subsist on dog biscuits. Tends to be a confusing read, which is to be expected of something coming from the Theatre of the Absurd.

The play has been adapted into film a couple of times, including an adaptation starring Michael Gambon as Hamm and David Thewlis as Clov.

The play has no connection to the television series of the same name.

Endgame contains the following tropes:

  • All Take and No Give: Hamm to Clov, and to everyone he interacts with.
    • Somewhat subverted in that Hamm's story suggests that years ago, he took a starving man and his child into his home out of pity, and that child was (probably) Clov.
  • Crapsack World: The dingy apartment where the main characters live is surrounded by a post-apocalyptic wasteland where most of humanity and most plant and animal life is gone.
  • Evil Cripple: Hamm is blind, unable to walk, and fully reliant on Clov. He's also extremely verbally abusive both towards his parents and Clov.
  • Evil Old Folks: Played fairly straight with Hamm, but a bit more ambiguous with Nagg and Nell who, while more sympathetic than their son, certainly aren't the nicest people in history.
  • Extreme Doormat: Clov, who acts as caregiver and servant to the tyrannical Hamm.
  • Fat Bastard: Hamm is often portrayed this way.
  • Flowery Insults: Hamm's comments to Clov, Nagg, and Nell.
    Hamm:[to Nagg ] Accursed progenitor...accursed fornicator, why did you engender me?
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Clov to Hamm, mostly because he acts as a passive sounding board for Hamm's rants and rambling stories.
  • Meaningful Name: Hamm and Clov. Hamm for hammer, while Clov resembles the French clou for nail.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Clov having a flea is a big deal. The justification given is that "humanity could start all over again from there!"
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Hamm, to the point where he hopes that even lower life forms disappear from the Earth so that something resembling humanity doesn't evolve again.
  • Non Sequitur, *Thud*: Nell's last line is a repeat of her recurring "so deep" line about Lake Como, but when Hamm asks what she's blathering about, her reply is "desert" before she dies.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: It's never stated exactly how humanity came to this dire pass, or what the world outside Hamm's house is like now.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Nagg gives one to Hamm in his last scene.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Nell seems to die in mid-sentence. She starts reminiscing about her time on Lake Como, says something about a desert to Clov, and then falls silent. Clov checks on Nell and remarks that she's stopped breathing.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Hamm's attitude towards Clov, who waits on him hand and foot, and towards his father Nagg, who calls him on it.
  • Word-Salad Horror: Most of the characters, particularly Hamm, speak in cryptic non-sequiturs that hint at how dire their situation is.