Endgame Questions and Answers
by Samuel Beckett

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What is the relationship between Hamm and Clov in Endgame? I think they are more than owner and servant.

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There is certainly an element of master and servant about Hamm and Clov's relationship, but it's much more complicated than that. For one thing, Hamm relies on Clov in a way that no self-respecting master would never rely on a slave. Hamm needs Clov as his eyes and legs; without his presence, his control over the shelter would be completely undermined.

At the same time, Clov's status vis a vis Hamm does resemble that of a slave in that he's utterly dependent on Hamm for food and shelter. But...

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linda-allen eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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mbumbesti | Student

The relationship between Hamm and Clov in "Endgame" is multidimensional. Although Hamm appears to be Clov's master, he is also the director and actor of his own play and uses Clov as his audience. In the beginning "Endgame", Clov pulls the curtain as if to signify that the play has just begun. After that, Hamm constantly refers to the play he is staging and that Clov has been forced to bear for a number of years. Moreover, Hamm represents British colonialism that seeks to stifle Irish nationalism, here represented by Clov. Not only does Hamm present himself as Clov's spiritual father, but he often chastises Clov's use of the English language. Finally, the relationship between both characters represents humanity's futile attempt to make sense of life and find meaning in the repetitive absurdity of everyday life.

nuclearchiapet | Student

There are definitely different ways to interpret their relationship and the play as a whole, for that matter, but I don't think there is much to insinuate a sexual relationship despite the kiss.  Beckett would probably tell us that it is absurd to try to find much meaning in this play or ANYTHING else for that matter.  There are a few ways that you can look at their relationship that doesn't involve a master/servant relationship OR a sexual one. 

For one, it is hinted that perhaps Hamm is Clov's father or adopted father.  This might better explain the kiss than physical desire.

Another way to look at their dynamic is to view them as symbols, even though they try to defy that view.  In one interpretation, Hamm could be likened to the ego or brain of an aging individual while Clov could be the senses and faculties of the same individual.  (he is Hamm's only connection to the outside world, without Clov, he is utterly isolated inside their skull of a room).

There are too many various interpretations to list here, but perhaps this can get you thinking.