because they still continue to speak so as to convince themselves that they are alive.
To begin with, in reading Endgame, there are lengthy and thus detailed stage directions concerning the actions of the characters. At the very beginning of the play, a long stage direction about the actions of Clov is placed which depicts precisely what he does, how he does it and how long these actions take place one after the other. The reason why stage directions for the actions of the characters are given in detail seems to lie in the dialogues which are not extended, and, in fact, even compressed. So the insufficiency of the dialogues is compensated for by directions in nuts and bolts. In addition, they guarantee the continuity and a certain measure of coherence, which are normally provided by a series of events or the meaningful exchanges of the characters, since they are excluded from the play intentionally an extraordinary manner.
However, this does not mean that the stage directions become a part of the characters’ memory. That is to say, although the gestures and movements are governed by a definite stage description, this is not enough to enable the characters to perform the same action when repeated. This is very intentional and clear in the example of Clov’s movements. Clov, the servant, attempts to see out of the two windows of the confined cell-like room which restricts the space of the play. In order to do this, he brings a ladder on which he can climb up to the high windows. After climbing up to the left window, he attempts for the right one, but he notices that he needs the ladder only after a few steps towards right. Hence, it is obvious that language does not provide the necessary experience for the servant even in similar situations. Thus, experience ceases to be a guide and cannot even serve to connect identical situations. A further instance of repetition comes later:
(Clov gets down, takes a few steps towards window left, goes back for ladder, carries it over and sets it down under window left, gets up on it, turns the telescope on the without, looks at length. He starts, lowers the telescope, examines it, turns it again on the without.) (30).
Clov’s movements prove that he cannot connect identical situations, and Beckett achieves repetition through the use of mechanical repetitive stage directions.
The form of expression that is in a cyclic pattern of repetition throughout the play represents a zero point, which seems to be stopped or frozen, or a linear progression towards no-where, towards nothingness. Clear from the dialogues, change is resisted or avoided by the characters and thereupon repetition becomes unavoidable being a signifier of no change in an anguish-stricken universe. So these meaningless words can represent Deleuze’s idea in language “That is what style is, or rather the absence of style-asyntactic, agrammatical: the moment when language is no longer defined by what it says, even less by what makes it a signifying thing, but by what causes it to move, to flow, and to explode-desire. For literature is like schizophrenia: a process and not a goal, a production and not an expression.”(Anti- Oedipus 133) that no meaning can be gained throughout the play.
In order to have a better understanding, it is needed to examine the concrete examples of repetition in the dialogues. Throughout the play many times, Clov repeats his plan to leave Hamm: “I’ll leave you, I have things to do” (12), “I’ll leave you” (41), “I’ll leave you” (48), “Then I’ll leave you” (68) etc. Other forms of expressions parody the repetition of ending the relationship further. In the episode concerning the alarm-clock, Clov signals and repeats his idea of leaving: “You whistle me, I don’t come. The alarm rings. I’m gone. It doesn’t ring, I’m dead” (47). All these phrases of repetition concerning departure emphasize that this is a long but inconclusive farewell.
Another frequently repeated phrase belongs to Hamm and it is concerned with his pain-killer. His repetitions involve using the question form of expression. Hamm wants to learn “Is it not yet time for my pain-killer?” (35), and he repeats it many times in the play, and Clov always responds negatively whenever the question is asked. Hamm most probably knows the answer he will get to his question, and thus he just asks his rhetorical question in order to convince himself that he is still there and living. Also, this repetition implies that there is always the pain, that is pain of existence, but there is nothing to cure it.
Interestingly the characters are able to notice the repetition and monotonous routines of their life in the play, and they insistently articulate this:
Were you asleep?
(Their heads strain towards each other, fail to meet,
fall apart again.)
Why this farce, day after day?
Nell shows that she is aware of the fact that they are living days that are imitations of each other, and she is not happy about it. It is understood that she is complaining about those days of repetition through the choice of the word ‘farce’. ‘Farce’ means a comic play or film where the characters become involved in unlikely situations; thus, it is a very suitable definition to describe the situation in which the characters of Endgame are surviving.
According to Deleuze’s project repetition in language creates a new meaning and not the same. Consequently, repetition of language patterns provides a convenient ground for Beckett’s darkly comic characters who make Endgame articulates itself as a series of repetitions. The language in Endgame is employed to display that there are sudden exchanges of trivial talk and quick shifts from one subject to the other, which quite well reflect that language is needed only to affirm that the characters are alive, not for an effective communication. As each character articulates what he wishes without waiting for a comprehensive reply, this situation results in independent utterances in the same dialogue:
You were in such fits that we capsized. By rights
we should have been drowned.
It was because I felt happy.
It was not, it was not, it was my STORY and
nothing else. Happy! Don’t you laugh at it still?
Every time I tell it. Happy!
It was deep, deep. And you could see down to the bottom. So
white. So clean. (21).
In the case of Nell and Nagg’s dialogue, both characters are talking about the same experience concerning their going out rowing on Lake Como. However, each is verbalizing just his/her own perspective and understanding regardless of the other. Similarly, while Hamm is trying to silence his parents after Nagg tells his story about the tailor, Nell suddenly bursts out and says, “You could see down to the bottom” (23). Her utterance is irrelevant to the dialogue and lacks in context. That is why, it is difficult to grasp the meaning or significance of it.
Another example of inconsequential dialogues takes place between Hamm and Clov:
If I could kill him I’d die happy.
What’s the weather like? (27)
No sooner is Clov talking about killing him (Hamm) than Hamm suddenly asks what the weather is like. Another one happens when Hamm says “Let us pray to God”, and Nagg says “Me sugar-plum!”. One can observe that shift of the subjects is incredibly fast and common. These examples, which are given above, show that there is a dissolution of the relationship between the speeches and the speakers. Phrases are articulated one after the other, but they are not meaningfully connected and comprehensible. The independence of language is testimony to the fact that the characters are intent upon neither expression nor communication. Since all purpose is absent form their conduct, they really do not need language, which thereupon begins to free itself from them. Moreover, topics in the dialogues are all trivial. There seems to exist nothing which is meaningfully worth communicating.
The basic reason why the dialogues are independent of each other and the subjects are all unimportant is that language lacks purpose:
What month are we?
Close the window, we’re going back.
(Clov closes the window, gets down, pushes the
chair back to its place, remains standing behind it,
head bowed.) Don’t stand there, you give me the shivers!
(Clov returns to his place beside the chair.)
Go and see did he hear me.
(Clov goes to Nagg’s bin, raises the lid, stoops.
Unintelligible words. Clov straightens up.)
(Clov stoops. As before.)
The first time or the second?
(Clov stoops. As before.)
He doesn’t know.
It must have been the second.
We’ll never know.
(He closes lid.) ( 65-66).
The dialogue above between Hamm and Clov lacks a semantic purpose. They are jumping from one topic to the other, and spending time and effort on trivial details and questions that will change nothing even if answered. So, they are exchanging words just to pass the time. Hence, the swift sequence of subjects appears as a shrinking of reality, not to the characters but to the spectators and this impression is intensified by the fact that the characters do not react to one another’s words, and this is presented as perfectly normal behavior.
Being purposeless, language hardly serves the function of communication. The loss of meaning and purpose invades the language in Endgame. To illustrate the
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