Character of Hamm in Endgame
Hamm in Endgame is described as a stiff touge in a dressing gown with thick socks that shows his weak and unhealthy personality. Black glasses are put on his eyes to give him the image of a blind man. He only thinks about himself and throughout the play it can be noticed that he is somewhat selfish in his treatment to his family. His first word is ‘me’: “Me-he yawns-to play.” that reflects this element of his personality. He assigns himself as the most miserable man of the world. He compares his suffering with others and finally reaches to the conclusion that a high profile man has more deprivation than others.
HAMM: Can there be misery- (he yawns) – loftier than mine? No doubt. Formerly. But now? [Pause.]
My father? [Pause.]
My mother? [Pause.]
No, all is a-(he yawns) -bsolute, (proudly) the bigger
a man is the fuller he is. (936)
He thinks about himself only-his suffering, his life, his relations and his possessions. He thinks his sufferings are superior to anybody else in the house.
Hamm is habitual to yawn that shows his lazy personality. He is always ready to sleep and used to ask for his pain – killer.
HAMM: Is it not time for my pain killer?
CLOV: No. (938)
Clov always replies in negative but at last towards the end of the play he responses in positive but only to say that there is no more pain killer.
HAMM: Is it not time for my pain killer?
HAMM: Ah! At last! Give it me! Quick! [Pause.]
CLOV: There’s no more pain killer. (959)
Why did he not tell it before? The reason may be that asking the same question and answer is a good pass-time for the two. He is fond of asking old questions with the same answers. “Ah the old questions, the old answers, there’s nothing like them!” (947)
Hamm is not a child who feels obliged to his parents rather he rebukes his father for giving him birth. He uses abusive term for his father who has taken him into this world where there is no rest.
HAMM: Scoundrel! Why did you engender me?
NAGG: I didn’t know.
HAMM: What? What didn’t you know?
NAGG: That it’d be you. (951)
He makes his father responsible for his present day miserable life and his father takes his hand off from any responsibility. As a master, he wants to hold authority over every conversation.
HAMM: Damn busybody! Is that all? (943)
He calls his mother a busy body because of her unending efforts from last few minutes but Clov handles the situation and settles down an expecting argument. He has kept them in ashbins and gives them food just enough to breathe. Time to time, he asks Clov to check them but not because he is concerned about them but because he wants to know whether they are alive or not. The humanity will decline a step more with their death.
Hamm knows his weakness that without Clov he will not survive long. So he behaves softly with him, no doubt he gives command to him but his attitude towards Clov is milder than that of his parents. He calls himself the father of Clov because he is bringing him up from his childhood.
HAMM: It was I was a father to you.
CLOV: Yes. [He looks at HAMM fixedly] (947)
He provides Clov everything enough to keep alive like food shelter and enough words to speak. The touch gives the sense of existence and feeble Hamm requires the hand of Clov.
HAMM: Will you not give me your hand?
CLOV: I won’t touch you. (958)
The chair bound Hamm has no one else but Clov whom he can touch and have the sense of living but Clov’s denial of touch might indicate his intense desire of final dust. Hamm is providing food to him in return of which Clov is serving him. Clov foretells the chance of death at Hamm’s decision that he will take his estables back. This shakes Hamm and he decides to give him one biscuit per day.
HAMM: I will give you nothing more to it.
CLOV: Then we’ll die.
HAMM: I’ll give you just enough to keep you from dying. You’ll be hungry all the time.
CLOV: Then we won’t die. (937)
After his declaration of one biscuit per day, he waits for Clov’s response but when the latter does not reply, he increases the quantity and again becomes silent to have a reply from Clov but latter does not say a word. Towards the end of the play, Hamm wants a last favour from Clov and asked him to cover him with the sheet.
HAMM: One thing more. [Exit CLOV.J Cover me with the sheet. (Long pause.) No? Good. [Pause] (963)
He tries to convince Clov for staying and waits if Clov has to say something in his turn. Long pause occurs as he waits long for Clov’s response but in vain.
Sometimes emotional overflow captures Hamm who decides to run away with Clov in southern area. He wants to live his dream to have a free and healthy life where he can enjoy the nature.
HAMM (with ardour): Let’s go from here, the two of us! South! You can make a raft and the currents will carry us away, far away, to other… mammals!
CLOV: God forbid!
HAMM: Alone, I’ll embark alone! Get working on that raft immediately. Tomorrow I’ll be gone forever. (946)
Though Clov’s dull response ejaculates the emotions but Hamm is determined to make his journey alone. Though he never steps outside his home but he has the feeling to go outside and live a natural life. He tries to sleep so that he can fly into imaginative world of love and affection and running away from this unsatisfied life. He wants to be free from this imprisoned life in a room and craves to roam in woods that will take him near nature. The prolonged creative effort has exhausted Hamm who clings to the lap of nature.
HAMM: If I could drag myself down to the sea! I’d make a pillow of sand for my head and the tide would come.
CLOV: There’s no more tide. (956)
He takes a fancy to drag down the sea where he would lay down and make a pillow of sand. Now and then tide comes and he would enjoy an undisputed life. But Clov breaks his fancy by declaring the end of tides.
There was a moment when his frenzied cry resembles to one of Jesus’ teaching “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”.
HAMM: Get out of here and love one another! Lick your neighbour as yourself. (943)
While Jesus is talking about brotherhood and unity, the member of absurd world Hamm uses it satirically as brotherhood will not comfort you. Later, Hamm includes the names of Roman Goddesses in his speech.
Hamm feels himself alienated in his own house and shows the difference between house and home. In the absurd universe house can easily be available but no home. House and home are very close synonyms both are used for a building made up of stone and clay. The difference is house is a building to live while home is generally referred to a building that includes emotions and feelings of the people living in it.
HAMM: My house a home for you.
CLOV: Yes. [He looks about him.] This was that for me.
HAMM (proudly): But for me, (gesture towards himself) no father. But for Hamm, (gesture towards surroundings) no home. (947-48)
For Clov, Hamm’s house is home because Hamm thinks he has faithfully treated Clov as a father. But Hamm’s alienation is not solved, he is not secured by the shadows of his parents. He has parents who are now just a source of trouble for him. He is living in his house but does not feel it his home due to lack of affection. He also uses shelter for his house. “Enough it’s time it ended, in the shelter too.” (936) His house is shelter because he allows others like Clov to live in it.
In real life, he cannot move out of his house and cannot even look from the windows because they are very high. He has not seen the sky, the earth and the natural phenomena for a long time. He wants to sleep so that in his dream, he can enjoy the natural beauty and sun on his feet, hot to be caught by anyone. He imagines that perhaps beyond the hills it is still green with flora, pomona and ceres. As they do not move outside of the house and view the conditions on the earth and the ocean from windows, there is still the possibility of greenery on the other side of the hill that they cannot see
Hamm starts the play with the dialogue, ‘me to play’ and towards the end of the play, he again indulges himself in playing. He folds, unfolds his handkerchief, recalled the people whom he helped, talks to himself and feels that there is no cure for existence. He believes that you are born on the earth, now you have to face all the difficulties, miseries and absurdities of life.
Hamm has a contradictory nature where he is afraid of his cyclic existence. He wants to exterminate the flea and rat that Clov find in his kitchen because they may be the sign of regeneration but he himself wants to go to South and expects perhaps beyond that hill it is still green. He wants to be alone so that he can cherish his dream but he also makes every possible effort to keep Clov by his side. He believes that nature has not forgotten them but all the evidence given by Clov indicates that everything is corsped outside.