Samuel Beckett's Endgame: a Structural Analysis Hans-Peter Hasselbach

Samuel Beckett's Endgame: A Structural Analysis
Hans-Peter Hasselbach

Modern Drama, Volume 19, Number 1, Spring 1976, pp. 25-34 (Article)

Published by University of Toronto Press DOI: 10.1353/mdr.1976.0006

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Samuel Beckett's Endgame: A Structural Analysis

of Samuel Beckett's drama Endgame may appropriately begin with a comment once made by the French film maker Jean-Luc Godard. Asked if his films had a beginning, a middle and an end he replied, "Yes, but not necessarily in that order." A first look at Beckett's play could lead to the same impression, but a closer view of the seemingly gratuitous structure will reveal its intricate and functional design and show the legitimacy of Beckett's statement at his Berlin production in 1967: "There are no accidents in Fin de Partie. Everything is based on analogy and repetition.") In this paper I try to shed light on this calculated pattern by examining the structure of the dramatic action in Endgame, thus disclosing Beckett's successful fusion of form and content. More particularly, my approach aims to show that the thematic elements combined in the play's title, "ending" and "playing," constitute an opposition that becomes the basis of Beckett's dramatic structure. In classical closed drama2 the structure of the action is governed by the overall direction of the play; the parts derive from the whole. Each single dramatic situation is a functional part of the whole, serving as a taking-off point for the next stage of a continuing action, "in which the decisions of the dramatis personae constantly transform the original situation and push it toward its final point of resolution."3 Thus the division of the play into acts is more important than its division into scenes, since the end of each act marks the...