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Theatre of Absurd

Post by: Deepti Khanna

ASTON: More or less exactly what you...

That's it ... that's what I'm getting at is ... I mean, what sort of jobs ... (Pause.)

Well, there's things like the stairs ... and the ... the bells...

But it'd be a matter ... wouldn't it ... it'd be a matter of a broom ... isn't it?

- Dialogue between Aston and Davies in The Caretaker, a talked-about Harold Pinter play.

The Theatre of the Absurd belongs to a genre of absurdist fiction, written by several European playwrights in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Their work was based on the belief that in a Godless universe, human existence has no purpose and therefore logical communication is inexistent. Writers of this literary movement believed that logical argument leads to irrational and illogical speech and ultimately silence. They also felt that man is perpetually bewildered, troubled and obscurely threatened.

The origins of the Theatre of the Absurd are deep rooted in the avant-garde experiments in art of the 1920 and 30s. The writers were also strongly influenced by the traumatic experience of the World War II which showed the total impermanence of values and highlighted the instability of human life. The trauma of living from 1945 under threat of nuclear annihilation also seems to have been an important factor in the rise of the new theatre.

Important writers belonging to this genre include: Samuel Beckett, Arthur Adamov, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet and Harold Pinter.

Plays within this style of writing are absurd in terms of dialogue, character development and the way they react. In most cases they are also trapped in an unlikely, illogical setting. According to Martin Esslin, Absurdism is "the inevitable devaluation of ideals, purity, and purpose" Absurdist drama also often asks its viewers to "draw his own conclusions, make his own errors".

The plots of many such plays feature characters in interdependent pairs, commonly two males or a male and a female. Beckett scholars have even called this the pseudocouple.

Despite its reputation for nonsensical dialogue, much of the exchange of words in absurdist plays is naturalistic. The moments when characters resort to nonsense language or clichés–when words appear to have lost their denotative function, creates misunderstanding among the characters, making the Absurdist literature stand out. 

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tahira kalsoom
very helpful data with grate knowledge.i like it very much.
Sun,May 27th 2012 12:43 PM