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走,还是留?——论《终局》中克洛夫的悲剧命运

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  走,还是留?——论《终局》中克洛夫的悲剧命运

  徐妮 (四川外语学院 重庆 400031)

  Although Clov, one of the major characters in Endgame, written by Irish play-writer Samuel Beckett, says repetitively “I will leave you, I have things to do” [1] from the beginning to the end of the play, his left is still indeterminate at the end of the play. In Endgame, to leave or not to leave, that is a question to Clov. Actually, being trapped in dilemma, Clov cannot leave and is bound to live in a tragic life due to the indeterminacy of space and his own identity as well as Hamm’s control on him both spiritually and materially.

  The indeterminacy of space in the play prevents Clov from leaving. Whether the outside world is determinate is doubtful. Camus notes that “in a universe that is suddenly deprived of illusions and of light. Man feels a stranger. He is irremediable exile”[2]. Indeed, in Endgame, there is nowhere else than the endless, formless, and inescapable space he has always inhabited. Besides, even if the outside world really exists, there is no food, no life, no hope or no light outside, just as Hamm says, “outside of here it’s death”[3]. The only time and space of the universe in Endgame is the stage; outside the earth is corpse, and the sea and the ocean are zero, and even the sun is zero and grey. Thus, although at the end of the play, Clov indeed manages to make the decision to go, and even comes in for the farewell to Hamm, with“Panama hat, tweed coat, raincoat over his arm, umbrella, bag”[4], one does not see his exit. He just remains “impassive and motionless, his eyes fixed on Hamm, till the end” [5].

  The indeterminacy of Clov’s identity makes it impossible for him to leave. Both of them have no choice but depend on each other. To some extent, Clov is the submissive Knight loyal to the King, Hamm. He staggers around erratically, performing errands and letting Hamm virtually ride him, showing his obedience and loyalty. Clov is also the servant obedient to the master Hamm who often whistles to give order to him and meanwhile provides him with food and shelter. That Beckett himself comments Hamm is a King in this chess game who tries to delay the inevitable end”[6] refers to the king- knight or master-servant relationship between them. What’s more, the story Hamm tells about the beggar and his child is a reference to the father-son relationship. Thus, while Clov wonders repeatedly why he stays with Hamm, his lifelong sense of obligation to the father-son relationship is one apparent reason. In addition, some critics argue that the requirement that Hamm asks Clov to kiss and touch him implies the lovers relationship with homosexuality. Although Clov refuses to kiss and touch him, he does not absolutely deny that he feels some queer to show love. In the play, Clov has no certain and unique identity. However, Clov and Hamm are dependent on each other and cannot be separated. It is the lack of certain identity that makes Clov lose himself and cannot leave without any hesitation.

  Hamm’s story- telling designed to continue to play the game controls Clov both materially and spiritually, confines him in the room and makes him cannot leave. They need dialogue and communication with each other to relieve the suffering. Hamm says that “you can leave me…. but you cannot leave us”[7]. Clov feels curious about Hamm’s story and even asks him to keep going. It demonstrates that it is impossible for Clov to leave due to the fear of loneness and need of communication. Besides, Clov speaks to himself that “I feel too old, and too far, to form new habits….it’ll never end. I’ll never go”[8]. His monologue manifests he is unable to leave. Moreover, Hamm tries to maintain the balance by devising new moves for the game. Thus, his story is a key element in his attempt. The possessive “my story” [9] creates certain vagueness in Hamm’s utterance. The term can describe Hamm’s entire life story or the story he keeps telling to the small audience consisting of his parents and Clov. This is an instance of what Kempson calls “the indeterminacy of meaning” [10]. In the play, Clov is controlled by Hamm in the game both materially and spiritually. His desires to leave and live in a new life could just be realized in his dream.

  Although he is hunted by the question—to leave or not to leave—from the beginning to the end of the play, tragic Clov actually find the answer at the very beginning of the play—he cannot move because the space in the play is indeterminate, he is dependent on Hamm due to their complex relationships, and he is controlled by Hamm in terms of materiality and spirituality in a world of emptiness, loneliness, hopeless and death. Clov’s suffering life will not end at the end of play, and it will go on and on in a spiral without any progress or change in a chaotic, repetitive, dark and hopeless wasteland of the world.

  Works Cited

  [1][3][4][5][7][8][9]Beckett, Samuel. Endgame. New York: Grove Press, 1958: 8,8, 64,64, 30, 63, 18.

  [2]Camus, Albert. The Myth of Sisyphus. Trans. Justin O’Brien. 1st ed. New York: Random House Inc.,1983: 39.

  [6]Cohn, Rubby. Back to Beckett. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974: 152.

  [10]Kempson, Ruth. Semantic Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992: 17.

  作者简介:徐妮,重庆人,1986年6月出生,四川外语学院研究生部2009级英语语言文学专业英语文学方向硕士研究生。

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