ABSURDISM IN MODERN LITERATURE[pic]
Absurdism is often linked to Existentialism, the philosophical movement associated with Jean Pual Satre and Albert Camus, among others. Although both existentialists and absurdists are concerned with the senselessness of the human condition, the way this concern is expressed differs. The philosophers explored the irrational nature of human existence within the rational and logical framework of conventional philosophical thought. The Absurdists, however, abondoned the traditional elements of literature in general and theatre in particular--- setting, plot, character development--- in order to convey a sense of absurdity and illogic in both form and content. In general, the two movements also differ in the conclusions each seems to draw from the realization that life is meaningless. Many absurdist productions appear to be making a case for the idea that all human effort is futile and action is pointless; others seem to suggest that an absurd existence leaves the individual no choice but to treat it as farce. The existentialists, however, claimed that the realization that life had no transcendental meaning, either derived from faith or from the essence of humanity itself, could(and should) serve as a springboard to action. An individual’s life, according to the existentialists, can be made meaningful only through that individual’s actions. Life is no more dreadful punishment than a futile and hopeless labor. This very idea of Albert Camus in his essay “The myth of Sisyphus” suggests the concept of absurdity defined by the group of people became the part of this theatrical movement.
Absurdism is a term first coined by Martin Esslin in his book “The theatre of the absurd” in 1961, in which he discussed the comprehensive details regarding the term and the great literary figures associated with it. The roots of absurdism dates back to early 20th century i.e. the post World War II, time when the world was going through great depression and the aftermaths of war was drawing the bleakest picture of the future world. No hope was left and every effort to survive seemed useless and futile in that harsh and cruel time of fascism.
During that time artists of the age, decided to depict the same scenario in their work. Absurdity characterizes a world that no longer makes sense to its inhabitants , in which rational decisions are impossible and all action is meaningless and futile.
The main characteristic of absurd play is that it gives no clear notion of time or place in which the action occurs. Characters are often nameless and seem interchangeable. Events are completely outside the realm of rational motivation and may have a nightmarish quality commonly associated with Surrealism (a post-World War I movement that features dream sequences and images from the unconscious, often sexual in nature). At other times, both dialogue and incidents may apear to the audience as completely nonsensical, even farcical. The work explores themes of lonliness and isolation, of the failure of the individuals to connect with others in any meaningful way, and of the senselessness and absurdity of life and death. To develop such kind of plays, it is obvious for the playwright to become completely conscious of the reality he is about to stage in front of the unconscious audience. Features of the plays that seemed completely new and mystifying to audiences in the 1950s when absurdist works first appeared, soon became not only understandable, but even commonplace and predictable. To grasp the theme of absurdity, its existence can only be figured by the death of God. Absurdist says that this world is meaningless and the human race is struggling against the hopeless and never changing reality. They don’t believe in eternity, neither any reward nor punishment on doing any deed in this futile world. Beneath the nonsense and slapstick humor of Absurdism lurks an element of cruelty, often revealed in dialogue...
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