Ubu The King Essay

841 words - 3 pages

Ubu the King, by Alfred Jarry, is a play that appeals to the audience in two ways. The play is entertaining but also makes the audience contemplate society and human conduct. Jarry mocks human behavior using extreme and blunt exaggeration. The extremity of the actions and words of the characters makes the audience realize that this mockery is representative of the dilemma of modern society: what is rationalism? Ubu the King expresses at least three relationships between humans: male vs. female, powerful vs. powerless, and rich vs. poor. Throughout the play, irrational human conduct questions these relationships. Some of the people involved in the same relationships in modern society are seen as behaving rationally by the modern standards. However, Jarry has his characters act very irrational which questions human behavior.The opening line of Ubu the King lets viewers know that it will not be a play that displays humans as being kind. "Crrrap!" Père Ubu exclaims (55). This word in itself defies society. Modern society's standards say it is wrong to present language like this to the public. "Why don't I smash you, Mère Ubu!" is a line that further expresses such language (55). This scene continues with the defiance of society, shown by the relationship between the male and female figure: Père Ubu and Mère Ubu. The exaggerated cruelty between the couple is shocking and serves as a realization to the audience. It is the kind of relationship that exists but is not discussed. In this scene and throughout the rest of the play society's norms are defied by showing an unpleasant yet realistic relationship between man and woman.This play exaggerates and mocks Shakespeare's Macbeth but it is still consistent with the basic qualities of the characters. The play also says something about Arnold's definition of culture. Arnold says that culture is the best and that we should associate ourselves with the best. The play displays a culture that is not the best and human behaviors that do not associate with the best. This relates to the dilemma of modern culture. Modern culture, being defined as the best, maybe actually isn't the best. The play makes the viewers contemplate the modern.The powerful opening scene expresses another human quality, greed. Mère Ubu acts greedily by telling Père Ubu to kill another in order to become rich, "Come now Père Ubu, are you content with your lot?" she questions, all the while expecting him to...

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