Theatre of the Absurd

Topics: Existentialism, Absurdism, Meaning of life Pages: 3 (839 words) Published: February 8, 2012
Theatre of the Absurd
Term coined by Martin Esslin, who wrote The Theatre of the Absurd. Works in drama and prose faction with the common theme:
* human condition is essentially absurd and
* this condition can be represented properly only by literature that is absurd in itself Movement emerged in France after WWII against the traditional beliefs and values of traditional lit and culture: * assumption that man is a rational creature,

* part of an ordered social structure,
* inhabiting an intelligible universe and
* capable of heroism and dignity even in defeat
After 1940s, tendency to see man as
* Isolated
* Living in an alien universe which has no truth, value or meaning (no idea of divine retribution etc.) * Life meaningless moving from nothing to nothing– no discernable reason for existence An existence anguished and absurd

Eugene Ionesco of the theatre for the absurd puts it: “Cut off from his religious, metaphysical and transcendental roots, man is lost; all his actions become senseless, absurd, useless” In his La Tentation de l’occident, Andre Malraux remarked: “at the centre of European man, dominating the great moments of his life, there lies an essential absurdity”. This theme is expounded in Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus: A vision of life essentially absurd * Without apparent purpose

* Out of harmony with its surroundings
* Sad to the point of anguish
* At the same time, in a laconic fashion, funny
He emphasizes:
* Destructive nature of time
* Feeling of solitude in a hostile world
* Sense of isolation from other human beings
1. Drama consciously does away with traditional plot structure 2. Shows human beings struggling with the irrationality of experience, in a state that has been described as ‘metaphysical anguish’ 3. Leads the spectator into a complicated situation which...
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