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Absurdity

The original or dictionary meaning of absurd is ‘Out of harmony'. But the word has a different meaning when it is used in the theatre of the absurd. N.A.Scott defines it, "Man yearns for some measure of happiness in an orderly, a rational and a reasonably predictable world; when he finds misery in a disorderly, an irrational and an unpredictable world, he's oppressed by the absurdity of the disparity between the universes as he wishes it to be and as he sees it." The most famous, and most controversial, absurdist play is probably Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. The characters of the play are strange caricatures who have difficulty communicating the simplest of concepts to one another as they bide their time awaiting the arrival of Godot. The language they use is often ludicrous, and following the cyclical patter, the play seems to end in precisely the same condition it began, with no real change having occurred. In fact, it is sometimes referred to as “the play where nothing happens.” Its detractors count this a fatal flaw and often turn red in the face fomenting on its inadequacies. It is mere gibberish, they cry, eyes nearly bulging out of their head--a prank on the audience disguised as a play. The plays supporters, on the other hand, describe it is an accurate parable on the human condition in which “the more things change, the more they are the same.” Change, they argue, is only an illusion.

Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Literally meaning "out of harmony," absurd was the existentialist Albert Camus's designation for the situation of modern men and women whose lives lack meaning as they drift in an inhuman universe. Virginia Woolf probes the question of what happens to human beings when they no longer have recourse to the illusions which had previously given their lives meaning. The theme of absurdity is a prevalent one in Albee's plays, as is suggested by the frequent references to the theatre of the absurd in analyzing his writing. Albee describes the philosophical notion of absurdity as "having to do with man's attempt to make sense for himself out of his senseless position in a world which

who or what they really are remains a mystery. which as it does in Kafka's work. by Pinter's deliberate failure. Though he looks strong and forceful. reality lacks any deeper meaning. religious. The Birthday Party influences the audience to doubt anything with certainty. provides all sorts of information about his background. not love.. Indeed. Ultimately. The Birthday Party is full of disjointed information that defies efforts to distinguish between reality and illusion. despite the presentation of personal information on Stanley and his two persecutors. because the moral. Similarly. George takes it upon himself to "kill" that illusion when Martha brings it too far into reality. political and social structures man has erected to 'illusion' himself have collapsed. For example. This effect is achieved through truncated dialogue. In Albee's view. about George's past are true or fictional. Nick and Honey's lives are based on illusion. Albee believed that a life of illusion was wrong because it created a false content for life. The Balcony by Jean Genet . As an Absurdist. the illusion of their son sustains George and Martha's tempestuous marriage. illusion seems indistinguishable from reality. Martha says that she is. he is impotent. in particular. Honey has been deceiving him by using birth control to prevent pregnancy. What has Stanley done to deserve persecution? The facts of his past are so unclear that his claim to be a pianist may even be false. "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" means "Who is afraid to live without illusion?" At the end of the play. It is difficult to tell which of George and Martha's stories about their son. Goldberg. but he offers only oblique clues as to why he has intruded upon Stanley's life..makes no sense . Edward Albee has said that the song. Nick married for money. and George and Martha must come to face that by abandoning their illusions. just as George and Martha's empty marriage revolves around an imaginary son.". The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter As in many absurdist works. intensifies the dreadful angst experienced by the protagonist. Throughout the play.

is concerned that everything meets their specifications. Common men pay money to live out their fantasies in The Grand Balcony. though some who are rich chose to be poor (a tramp). They primarily choose to be men in power (a judge. The Balcony reflects on the emptiness of societal roles. Reality and illusion feed off each other in the difficult play. . the brothel owner. a bishop. as when the customers are forced to live the roles they play. Irma goes to great lengths to keep reality out of The Grand Balcony. it is not as satisfying. but within reasonable costs. but when they come true. Irma. Details are important to these men: their costumes must be perfectly realistic for their fantasies to be enjoyed.The primary theme in The Balcony is the tension between the illusions that rule inside the brothel and the intrusion of reality that rules on the outside. a general). Dreams may make reality tolerable.