Absurdism, a very well known term in the era of modern theatre has played a very significant role in the field of dramas. It’s significance and its presence in the modern theatre has created all together a different and a specific area in the world of theatre widely known as “the theater of the absurd”. Theatre of absurd was given its place in 1960’s by the American critic Martin Esslin. In a thought to make the audiences aware that there is no such true order or meaning in the world of their existence. It’s an attempt to bring the audiences closer to the reality and help them understand their own meaning in life.
Samuel Beckett was Nobel Prize winning author, a modernist, the last true modernist according to many.
Samuel Beckett wrote Waiting for Godot between October 1948 and January 1949. Since its premiere in January of 1953, it has befuddled and confounded critics and audiences alike. Some find it to be a meandering piece of drivel; others believe it to be genius. Much of the strain between the two sides stems from one simple question. What does this play mean? Even within camps where Waiting for Godot is heralded, the lack of clarity and consensus brings about a tension and discussion that has lasted over sixty years.
At the centre of the existential angst, dominating the great movements of life, there lays an essential absurdity. England in the aftermath of the two wars inherited this absurdity that upheld the human predicament in a world where “nobody thinks, nobody cares. No beliefs, no convictions and no enthusiasm.” Camus in The Myth of Sisyphus diagnoses humanity’s plight as purposeless in an existence out of harmony with its surroundings. This irrationality and pointlessness of experience is transferred to the stage where by all semblance of logical construction and all intellectually viable argument is abundant. In the same strain, developed the Angry Plays of the Theatre of the Absurd. Beckett, Adamor and Pinter with the difference of attempting
At the end of the novel Dr. Rieux survives, and life slowly returns to normal in Oran. As Rieux said, even though the plague was over, the plague was really never over, it was never over. The rats would eventually come back and the events described would repeat themselves. Rieux understood this because he understood that the world was absurd and chaotic. Every event that happened didn’t need a reason, and it happened no matter what. All he could do is live in the moment and do his duties, and accept that absurdity is ever so present. This is the basis of an absurd hero, and Rieux is the prime example of an existential character.
To be honest, I could not see how this play could have an impact on society in the sense of portraying the aftermath of World War II specifically with the rebuilding of France. However, as any liberal arts students would do, we research and it amazes me all of the symbols that were in this play. What I found was that Waiting for Godot is part of the absurdist theatre, which is when a writer creates a script that shows a “meaningless” world that is overshadowing the people who are lost and confused of what to make of their lives/future. By using this type of writing style, this allowed for the play to represent the current situation of the world after World War II. Basically, after the war, no one really knew what to make of themselves and their
Absurdism states the futility of humanity trying to find the meaning and purpose of human existence. In the article the “The Absurd” Nagel points out the contrast of importance we put on our lives in a biased point of view and how they appear, is true aspect of the absurdity of our lives. As for Hamlet, absurd is revealed in the decisions that characters make and by their actions. Life is essentially the period existence and death is the end of that existence. Like every other living thing on earth, our time is limited. As Gertrude point out "Thou know'st tis common. All that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity." How ironic that a
“Absurdism” (coined by Albert Camus) is a philosophy based upon the concept that the life and the world are meaningless, irrational, without sense or reason. And any effort we make to try to find meaning in them will ultimately fail.
“Accordingly, any interpretation that purports to know who Godot is (or is not), whether he exists whether he will ever come, whether he has ever come, or even whether he may have come without being recognized (or possibly in disguise) is, if not demonstrably wrong, at least not demonstrably right” (Hutchings 27).
“Although works of the theater of the absurd, particularly Beckett’s, are often comical, their underlying premises are wholly serious: the epistemological principle of uncertainty and the inability in the modern age to find a coherent system of meaning, order, or purpose by which to understand our existence and by which to live” (Hutchings 28).
Godot’s characters do not despair in the face of their situation, and this “perseverance remains constant throughout a body of work that, in the words of the citation awarding Beckett the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969 had ‘transmuted the destitution of modern man into his exaltation’ (qtd. in Bair 606)” (Hutchings 30).
We live on a planet revolving around the sun, while there are at least about one septillion other stars in this universe. What is the significance of our existence in this infinite cosmos? What is the purpose of our lives? With the explosion of scientific knowledge and the WWII bombs in the modernity epoch, the insignificance of our lives was realized; Samuel Becket staged the futility of human existence in the play Waiting for Godot. He portrayed nothingness through the use of structure, language, dialogue, and setting. He further demonstrated that the lives of the two characters Vladimir and Estragon takes meaning when they wait for the ambiguous Godot. In order to be relieved from the crippling question of existence, they occupy themselves with meaningless activities. Due to the lack of a plot in Waiting for Godot, one can deduce that perhaps Beckett is referring to the futility of human existence in general.