Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Samuel Beckett's Endgame. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Endgame: Plot Summary
Endgame: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Endgame: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Samuel Beckett
Historical Context of Endgame
Other Books Related to Endgame
- Full Title: Endgame
- When Published: Premiered on April 3rd, 1957.
- Literary Period: Modernism, Existentialism
- Genre: Drama, Theatre of the Absurd, Tragicomedy
- Setting: A room with only two windows, which is possibly the only place in the world where humans—or anything—still exist.
- Climax: Endgame evades meaning and interpretation because nothing truly happens to change the circumstances of the play from beginning to end. For this reason, it’s difficult to pinpoint a climax, though it could be argued that Nell’s sudden death is the most significant thing to happen and, therefore, the most transformative moment in the play. However, it is more likely that the climax is Clov’s inability to leave Hamm at the end of the play, when he’s dressed for departure but can’t bring himself to turn away from Hamm.
- Antagonist: The misery and agony of existence
Extra Credit for Endgame
Head-Scratcher. Readers who find themselves exasperated by how difficult it is to understand Endgame should take solace in the knowledge that simply trying to comprehend the play has preoccupied even the sharpest intellectuals. In fact, the respected and prolific philosopher Theodor Adorno even wrote an essay entitled “Trying to Understand Endgame”—an indication that even the 20th century’s best thinkers struggled to grasp the import of Beckett’s play.
Pardon My French. Like many of his plays and novels, Beckett first wrote Endgame in French, titling it Fin de partie. The reason he worked this way was because his French was worse than his English, and he liked the effect this had on his writing. He translated Endgame into English himself in 1957, the same year it premiered in French. The first English production opened in New York in 1958.