After the Bomb Hsc English 2012

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“There are certain events of such social significance that they rock the foundations of our world.” To what extent does your study of the elective “After the Bomb” support the given statement? In your response, you must make reference to the play “Waiting for Goddot’ and two texts of your own choosing. If you so wish, you may use Plath as a second prescribed text but you will still need to write about two additional texts. Particular events have such broad and long-lasting ramifications for our society that they shake the very pillars upon which our world is built. The dropping of the atomic bomb upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki was one such event. The very foundations of our society – traditional philosophical concepts such as totalising metanarratives, absolute truth and the purposefulness and rationality of life – were shaken by contestation fuelled by the uncertainty that was generated by the absolute destructive power of the atomic bomb. The uncertainty generated by this cataclysmic event also gave rise to the aggression, paranoia and irrationality that drove the Cold War – a conflict which rocked the foundations of our world by threatening it’s annihilation in a nuclear apocalypse. The social significance of the unbelievably destructive nature of the atomic bomb resonates throughout the post-WW2 era, most blatantly through the Cold War between American and the USSR. This era saw the development of new philosophical movements, such as existentialism, which arose largely due to the uncertainty generated by the dropping of the atomic bomb, and questioned fundamental assumptions such as totalising metanarratives and a meaningful, purposeful universe. In the words of philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre “Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.” The uncertainty that underpins the entire way of thinking of the Cold War period gave rise to dramatic traditions which embodied this uncertainty to its’ fullest extent, namely, the Theatre of the Absurd. One of the seminal playwrights for this genre, Eugene Ionesco, expressed his ideology thusly: “Cut off from his religious, metaphysical, and transcendental roots, man is lost; all his actions become senseless, absurd, useless.” This postmodern dramatic form undermines the underpinning certainties of our world, and this contestation arose from the dropping of the nuclear bomb. Two of the most significant plays of this genre are Samuel Beckett’s 1953 masterpiece “Waiting For Godot” and Harold Pinter’s “The Dumb Waiter,” first performed in 1957. Some events are of such great social significance that they destabilise the very foundations of our world. One such foundation was the totalising metanarratives that defined the social structure of the world in the modernist era and before, particularly the religious metanarrative. Lucky’s speech in “Waiting For Godot” challenges the foundational traditional philosophical assumption that it is possible to adhere to a, in the words of Jeffrey Nealon, “metanarrative which links together all moments in history within a single, continuous metaphorical system.” The juxtaposition of reference to a “personal God” with the nonsensical linguistic construction “quaquaquaqua” satirises the veracity of the religious metanarrative. This notion is furthered through the allusion to religious and philosophical authority in the phrase “Bishop Berkeley,” which is ridiculed through garbled version of the Latin assertion that “to be is to be perceived/esse est percio” : “Essy in Possy” of Testew and Cunard”. By challenging the validity of the religious metanarrative, Beckett simultaneously challenges one of the foundations of our world. This contestation of one of the foundations of our world in response to the cataclysmic disturbance wreaked upon the world through the dropping of the atomic bomb attests to the social significance of that event. The era following the dropping of the atomic bomb is characterised by an atmosphere of...
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