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Theatre Of The Absurd: The Meaningless Of Human Existence How Does Theatre Of The Absurd Use Dramatic Forms And Stylistic Features To Comment On The Meaningless Of Human Existence?

1424 words - 6 pages

The term 'Theatre of the Absurd' is used to categorise plays which do not follow conventional play structures. The main aim of these plays is to transfer the writer's vision of the world onto the stage, and generally comment on the human condition. Plays such as Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett), The Dumb Waiter (Harold Pinter), and The Bald Prima Donna (Eugene Ionesco) all comment on different types of the human condition but ultimately reflect the meaningless of human existence. They provoke thought about the pointlessness of life, the powerlessness of people over the course of their lives, and the ludicrous values and rules of 'civilised' society.In absurdist plays, symbols play an integral part of communicating the writer's vision to the audience. In 'Waiting for Godot' the mysterious stranger Godot, who is never seen yet whom the play revolves around, can be seen to symbolise God - "And if he comes? We'll be saved". His promises of coming to Vladimir and Estragon continue to be unfulfilled as they patiently wait day after day for his arrival. Similarly the dumbwaiter in 'The Dumb Waiter' can be seen as symbol of power. It demands a variety of dishes from Ben and Gus, complicating their perfectly planned lives and ultimately ordering them to kill the next person to walk through their door. 'The door opens, Ben turns, his revolver levelled. Gus stumbles in, they stare at each other. Curtain.' - the final stage directions of 'The Dumb Waiter'.The barren wasteland in which 'Waiting for Godot' takes place can be seen as a metaphor for the emptiness of the character's, and indeed all people's, lives. Metaphors, like symbols, play a main role in communicating the writer's vision, and occur in most absurdist plays. In 'The Bald Prima Donna', the Martins' transformation into the Smith family is a metaphor for the excruciatingly identical lives led by all English households. The room in which 'The Dumb Waiter' takes place can be seen as a metaphor for humanity's oblivion to the truth of the world around them. This is reinforced as Gus asks Ben "Who clears up after we're gone? Who does the clearing up?" Throughout the play the characters become increasingly confused by events occurring outside their room, for example when the matches are slid under the door with no explanation, and afterwards when the dumbwaiter demands that they supply a variety of complicated dishes to the people upstairs.The meaningless of human existence is also communicated to the audience through the use of comedy. In 'Waiting for Godot' Vladimir finds a hat and tries it on, passing his own to his friend Estragon who replaces his own hat with Vladimir's, passing his own on, and the cycle continues for about two minutes before Vladimir's hat is hurled away, then he encounters the same problem as he had with his original hat. This comic exchange displays how humans can work laboriously just to end up exactly where they started, proving their efforts worthless. In 'The Bald Prima...

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