Endgame Questions and Answers
by Samuel Beckett

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How is Hamm like a bad player in a chess game in Endgame?

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Several analyses of Endgame as some sort of chess game have been attempted by the large body scholars, but all have been stained by the fallacy known as “argument by analogy.”  The title refers, of course, to the last strategies of a chess game, but Beckett’s interest in the subject is an extension of his lifelong obsession with how one should act, or could act, given the inevitability of our own “end.”  The gradual attrition of choices is like the endgame of a chess match.  As for Hamm and Clov, this pair of “characters” should be seen as another Beckett pairing of mind and body, like Gogo and Didi in Waiting for Godot, as well as in virtually every other Beckett play.  (Another parallel worth noting here is the child-messenger.)  A more fruitful approach to this play might lie in the direction of how the details here square with his fiction (a “motif index” has been suggested for his canon, a project temporarily abandoned when the Journal of Beckett Studies ceased publication.)

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