Does Vyrozumeni Properly Belong To What Is Called The Theatre Of The Absurd?

1402 words - 6 pages

To be able to discuss whether or not Vyrozumeni belongs to the Theatre of the Absurd it is important to know what this genre actually is.

The playwrights who are associated with the Theatre of the Absurd did not form an organized movement, but nevertheless one can extrapolate specific criteria for absurdist drama. According to Martin Esslin these are: mechanistic actions, devaluation of language, circular structure, lack of solution for a problematic situation. The Theatre of the Absurd has been dealt with primarily as a Western European phenomenon, usually focusing on Eugene Ionesco and Samuel Beckett.

Yet in this play Havel applies the basic absurdist construction to express the dehumanization process in a socialist society. I will argue that Vyrozumeni does belong to the Theatre of the Absurd, as it for fills all the above mentioned criteria that defines absurdist drama.

Mechanistic actions

One of the most obvious mechanistic actions in the play is the way in which Kubs, the assistant of Balas, resembles a robot in his mannerisms. The audience never hear him speak; instead he just repeatedly shakes or nods his head when his opinion is required. This could be showing that Kubs' opinion, as a mere assistant, is of no real importance to the people in charge of the office and thus he doesn't feel the need to speak. However, throughout the play the audience gets the notion that Kub's has great influence on what goes on in the company, as Ptydepe was originally his idea. By not speaking he is able to keep a low profile and can, underhandedly, carry on taking over the office. Thus his mechanistic actions highlight the absurdity of bureaucracy, as the people who are officially less superior have the most power and influence amongst the office.

Not only does Kubs have mechanistic actions, but also the office as a whole works very mechanically. This is shown for example through procedures one has to go through to be able to buy a simple accounts book. Gross must give Balas his consent in writing so that Balas can buy a new accounts book, otherwise the office won't accept it and it will excise to exist for them. It shows that the office world is very mechanical and that even the smallest tasks in the play require an unreasonable amount of attention. This seems to highlight the absurdity of menial things taking up so much time of people's working hours. Havel could also have been highlighting by this that under the communist regime employees wasted a lot of time on trivialities, as the amount of employees meant that there was hardly any work to do. Thus people occupied themselves with matters that weren't important at all.

The most obvious mechanical action taken in the play is the use of ptydepe itself. The foundation on which this language was formed was to make the office more mechanical. It allows no room for error or improvisation and therefore crushes any freedom and individuality when using it.

Circular Structure


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