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the customary properties pertaining to the body Beckett reaffirms the irreducibility of the body, reminds us that it remains an agent of disclosure. By concentrating our attention on words, Beckett creates a physical space even when it is reduced to the limits of a single physical organ. The Beckettian stage is, in the best sense of the word, rarefied; the body is diminished, its words diminished, and yet both word and gesture are restored to a primal expressive function.
Indeed, Beckett commonly uses the eyes as a physical manifestation of the acts of seeing others and needing to be seen. Characters perceive one another through vision and connect by means of eye contact. The eyes as physical structures are also relevant in that they become outward manifestations of characters’ psyches. In other words, the eye mediates the light of the exterior world and internal darkness. In the play Endgame, Hamm is described as covering his face with a blood-smeared handkerchief. It becomes clear that Hamm’s eyes are, in fact, bleeding. All of the turmoil, insecurity, and frustration that Hamm holds inside literally oozes out of his eyeballs. This image functions on two levels: it both expresses Hamm’s mental state and contributes to the tone of surreal despair that permeates the play.
As a matter of fact, Hamm is saddled with the burden of life without sight in Endgame. Hamm can only survive by relying on Clov to act as his eyes. Here, seeing is linked to a sense of agency: men’s relationship is held together by a complex dynamic power in which Hamm acts as master, but is dependent on Clov’s perceptions:

HAMM:
Wait!
(Clov halts.)
How are your eyes?
CLOV:
Bad.
HAMM:
But you can see.
CLOV:
All I want.
HAMM:
How are your legs?
CLOV:
Bad.
HAMM:
But you can walk.
CLOV:
I come… and go.
HAMM:
In my house.
(Pause. With prophetic relish.)
One day you’ll be blind like me. You’ll be sitting here, a speck in the void, in the dark, forever, like me.
(Pause.)
One day you’ll say to yourself, I’m tired, I’ll sit down, and you’ll go and sit down. Then you’ll say, I’m hungry, I’ll get up and get something to eat. But you won’t get up. You’ll say, I shouldn’t have sat down, but since I have I’ll sit on a little longer, then I’ll get up and get something to eat. But you won’t get up and you won’t get anything to eat.
(Pause.)
You’ll look at the wall a while, then you’ll say, I’ll close my eyes, perhaps have a little sleep, after that I’ll feel better, and you’ll close them. And when you open them again there’ll be no wall any more.
(Pause.)
Infinite emptiness will be all around you, all the resurrected dead of all the ages wouldn’t fill it, and there you’ll be like a little bit of grit in the middle of the steppe.
(Pause.)
Yes, one day you’ll know what it is, you’ll be like me, except that you won’t have anyone with you, because you won’t have had pity on anyone and because there won’t be anyone left to have pity on you.
(Pause.)
CLOV:
It’s not certain.
(Pause.)
And there’s one thing you forgot.
HAMM:
Ah?
CLOV:
I can’t sit down.
HAMM (impatiently):
Well you’ll lie down then, what the hell! Or you’ll come to a standstill, simply stop and stand still, the way you are now. One day you’ll say, I’m tired, I’ll stop. What does the attitude matter?
(Pause.)
In one of their exchanges, Hamm taunts Clov with a description of blindness, promising that he too will reach this state of unseeing. To Hamm, the loss of sight is tantamount to a loss of significance. He rants, “Infinite darkness will be all around you, all the resurrected dead of all the ages wouldn’t be enough to fill it, and there you’ll be like a little bit of grit in the middle of the steppe” (Endgame, 36). Finding his ability to perceive hindered, Hamm loses his sense of purpose and identity. He cannot experience the reciprocity of perception, a loss that results in an overwhelming sense of isolation. This partly explains why he feels that he needs to endlessly dictate instructions to Clov in hopes of finding a human connection despite his lack of vision.
This quest for companionship explains Hamm’s preoccupation with the toy dog. Hamm is so compelled to be perceived by others that he repeatedly questions Clov for details about the actions of an inanimate object. He asks:
Is it gazing at me?… As if he were asking me to take him for a walk?… Or as if he were begging me for a bone. Leave him like that, standing there imploring me (Endgame, 41).
Much like with his interactions with Clov, Hamm seeks to establish dominance over the dog. He seems to compensate for his blindness by asserting power, first over Clov then over the toy dog. Part of his definition of himself depends upon his role as master. This conception is complicated by the reality of the characters’ situations. A feeling of stasis pervades the play as both Hamm and Clov seem simultaneously dependant upon their relationship with one another and incapable of escaping its cyclical futility.
In some works, the physical structures of the eyes are symbolized by the presence of windows. In this manner, the concept of seeing is also present in Endgame in the construction of the set. The two windows on the back wall function as eyes; the play is, in fact, one that takes place in the space of the mind. It is through the windows that Clov can see the Earth and the sky; they facilitate the passage between the inner world of the play and the external unknown. In this interpretation of the play, Hamm and Clov become dual images of the self that are hostile toward one another, but are each necessary for the other’s survival. Hamm and Clov might simultaneously represent two distinct human beings and two facets of the self. The process of perception by which man asserts—or as Beckett seems to insist, fails to assert—his individuality is the same within selves as it is between selves. In Endgame, these internal and external struggles are inextricable; the characters rely on one another to furnish definitions of their own identities even as they experience the frustration of failing to establish a functional sense of self. Besides, this possibility of contact with humanity is both sustaining and agonizing: while a sense of hope is offered by human connection, the impossibility of such an encounter within the world of the play is tragic. This is a departure from Endgame, where Clov’s telescope is aimed at the Earth but reveals nothing but “gray” (31). The absence of the hope of any sort of union with the outside world leaves the characters continually restricted to the space of the room, endowing the scene with a sense of futility.
A similar use of performance to elicit attention is present in Endgame. Hamm promises Nagg a sugar-plum in return for listening to him tell a story. What follows is a disjointed narrative that appears to be more for the benefit of Hamm than of Nagg. This moment in the play seems to be self-gratifying; Hamm is using storytelling as a mechanism to interact with another human being, but does so solely for his personal gain. He is not seeking to engage in a complex exchange with Nagg, but is using him as an instrument for confirming his own existence. Here, Nagg is in the same position as a member of the audience; Hamm alludes to him and acknowledges existence, but he is unable to contribute. Still, without him, Hamm would have no reason to perform his monologue, just as without the audience the play would be meaningless. In short, Nagg’s presence is necessary for Hamm to have a purpose and therefore to exist.
In some cases, especially those in which sight is limited or missing, the interplay of perceiving and being perceived must be facilitated by other means. In Endgame, this occurs primarily through verbal interaction between Hamm and the other characters, most notably Clov. As discussed earlier, Hamm relies on Clov to act as his proxy in perceiving the world through sight. However, Hamm also needs the reassurance of a human voice.
Much of the dialogue of the play takes the form of questions and answers. This serves a practical purpose in that Hamm is blind and must ask about the world around him; however, it also serves as a way to ensure that he is being perceived by another individual. In a sense, this operates in the same way as echolocation. In order to perceive himself being perceived by Clov, Hamm emits sound waves in the form of questions and hears them returned in Clov’s reply. For example, when Hamm fantasizes about leaving the house and Clov acts as if he is leaving, Hamm delays him by asking a succession of questions: “Wait! Will there be sharks, do you think?… Wait! Is it not yet time for my pain-killer?… Wait! How are your eyes?… How are your legs?” (35). Clov provides the appropriate responses, and the play continues in its accustomed banal, circular fashion.
The recurrence of such conversations suggest a crystallized pattern of perpetual habit; Clov bemoans, “All life long the same questions, the same answers” (5). The back-and-forth exchanges have become integral to how Clov perceives Hamm, and how Hamm perceives Clov and the rest of the world. In the painful stasis of a play that takes place in a closed system with only an unwanted deterioration into decay and death, Beckett presents two characters that only interact by means of repetitive dialogue that designates nothing.
The interplay of question and answer, stichomythic conversations, and weary monologues show the characters plagued by boredom so sharply that it has become a form of suffering; imprisoned in a closed system in a declining state, Hamm and Clov cling to these verbal habits. They adapt to the interminable deterioration by perpetuating the same form of interaction that they have always used. Hamm must speak and Clov must respond in order to perceive and be perceived by one another.
The characters seem to understand this

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