Life in the Iron Mills

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. Life is Not Merely a Coincidence
“Theatre of the Absurd” is designated for plays of absurdist fiction and refers to the avant-garde theatre of a loosely associated group of dramatists such as, Beckett, Ionesco, Pinter, and Albee who first emerged during and after World War 11. The plays express the belief that “in a godless universe human existence has no meaning or purpose and therefore all communication breaks down” (Britannica Online Encyclopedia). Logical construction and argument gives way to irrational and illogical speech and to its ultimate conclusion which is silence. Absurdist theatre is often called a reaction to realism, as instead of conforming to the concept of real life, absurdist sought to provide an unmistakably unreal experience. The absurd dramatist relates to existentialism and the philosophical approach in understanding human existence and experiences. Existentialism is based on the assumption that individuals are free and responsible for their own choices and actions. Hence, people are not victims of circumstances as there is the freedom of choice. In an absurdist play, time and settings are generally ambiguous, if they are even defined at all. The characters are not meant to mimic real people, but instead are often “metaphorical or archetypal” (Britannica Online Encyclopedia). Absurdism is a form of drama that emphasizes the absurdity of human existence by employing disjointed, repetitious, and meaningless dialogue, purposeless and confusing situations, and plots that lack realistic or logical development. The guiding principle of absurdism is to look at the world without any assumption of purpose and its usefulness is it exists without prejudices or specificity. As it is equally alien to everyone, Absurdism is meant to be accessible to everyone. One of the common misconceptions of theatre of the absurd plays is that nothing makes sense. On the contrary, the characters in absurdism tend to behave in a serious way, reacting realistically to the bizarre occurrences of their environment. The protagonists of Endgame by Samuel Beckett, The Zoo Story by Edward Albee, and Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco are all overwhelmed by the irrational nature of their respective environments and the general effect they share is a nightmare and dreamlike atmosphere that is their existence involving the forces of hope, truth, identity, reality, alienation, meaning, and human existence; all of which are forces they are struggling against.

The idea of the Endgame is taken from the game of chess where the concept designates the last, and entirely predictable, stage of a game, the end. The play portrays a universe which is nearing its end. Hamm and Clov both are the protagonists in Beckett’s one-act play, Endgame. Hamm is the chess King, paralyzed and wheelchair bound, who moves only when he makes demand for Clov to service him “get me ready, I am going to bed” (391) or “I feel a little too far to the left / Now I feel a little too far to the right” (399). Clov is his submissive Knight who staggers around erratically submitting to Hamm’s every whim. Hamm controls everything and everyone while having absolutely no control over himself or his environment. Frustration and anger dictates his existence as he sees the end all humanity seem to be moving towards is both uncertain and elusive, and he is terrified. Hamm channels his anger at God by shouting “The bastard! He doesn’t exist!” (Levy 410). The forces of a meaningless existence, reality, and Armageddon are the forces Hamm and Clov struggles against. Both are starving for identity and a healthy relationship with others but it is an impossible feat. They want to preserve their own unique identity, but it is necessary for both to relate to the outside world and nature to develop a true identity. Hamm and Clov are confined in a depressing, stagnant, bare, and dismal vacuum of their environment located partially underground, and their relationship...
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