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Twentieth Century European Drama Essay

2587 words - 10 pages

Although there is broad diversity within modern European drama, there are parallels, common threads, and reactions linking them. This assortment of links is sometimes tenuous, at others blatant, but always in some form connecting plays from different European playwrights.

The ‘theatre of the absurd’ contains works by many leading mid to late twentieth century playwrights including Pinter , who’s early plays revolved around such questions as the relationship between “the necessary and the possible or being and non-being” (Innes. 1992b: 325). In particular, The Caretaker (Pinter. 2000) contains parallels with both the theatricality and the existentialism within In Camera by Sartre (1990).
Theatrically, both plays are set within a single location; The Caretaker takes place in a single room in a house in west London (Pinter. 2000) while In Camera occurs in a second empire style drawing room (Sartre. 1990: 181). A parallel can also be drawn connecting the relationships between Aston & Davies in ‘The Caretaker’ and that of Garcin, Inez, and Estelle during In Camera. For example, Davies is annoyed by Aston, leading to a verbal attack; while Aston is also annoyed by Davies, leading to a confrontation between the two (Pinter. 2000: 95-96 & 105-111). This is comparable to the notion that Garcin, Inez, and Estelle will each act as the torturer of the others and that “Hell is…other people” (Sartre. 1990: 195 & 223).
The three main protagonists of In Camera are bound together in Hell; linked to each other always. This is exemplified by the fact that Garcin states to Inez that “if you make any movement…Estelle and I feel a little tug. Alone, none of us can save himself or herself; we’re linked together inextricably”, and also by the fact that even when the door to the room is opened, no-one leaves because they need each other, even though they cannot stand being with each other. Inez even states that they are all “inseparables” (Sartre. 1990: 206 & 219). This is mirrored by Davies who, even though Aston aggravates him, also needs him and attempts to talk his way out of being evicted from the room, to ensure his continued lodging with Aston (Pinter. 2000: 120-125). Therefore both In Camera and The Caretaker deal with issues of “trust, dependence and expectation that underline social behaviour patterns” (Batty. 2005: 37).
In Camera (Sartre. 2000: 223) ends with the notion that the situation will continue, with the conflicts repeating themselves forever. The closing dialogue demonstrates this when the three protagonists fully realise their situation of eternal entrapment. This idea of history repeating is echoed in the ending of The Caretaker (Pinter. 2000: 24, 83 & 125), with Davies reiterating his earlier claims that he will go to Sidcup to get his ‘papers’.

The work of Stoppard was originally perceived as belonging to the theatre of the absurd, akin to Pinter’s early work; the darkness of which brought itself to Stoppard’s attention (Innes....

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