ABSURD is generally, a state of irrationality or meaninglessness. More specifically, absurdity is either a flaw in logic (see reductio ad absurdum) or a basic premise of existentialism which asserts that the meaning of the world does not precede the existence of beings capable of formulating a conception of meaning. Waiting for Godot exemplifies the double nature of Beckett’s work because it portrays the human condition through both form and plot. Godot demonstrates Beckett’s Absurdist characteristics at the same time as it defies the limitations of that same classification.
The play does present the absurdity of life in being and form, the argument over the absurdity of the human condition continues throughout the play. The very premise of the play is that of an argument. Fromthe opening lines of the play, Vladimir and Estragon debate and discuss whether or not there is any purpose at all to their existence: Estragon: [Giving up again. ]Nothing to be done. Vladimir: [Advancing with short, stiff strides, legs wide apart. ]I’m beginning to come round toth at opinion.
All my life I’ve tried to put it from me, saying, Vladimir, be reasonable, you haven ” t yet tried everything. And I resumed the struggle. [He broods musing on the struggle. Turning to Estragon. ] So there you are again. Even though Estragon is primarily concerned with putting on his boots in this scene, Vladimir carries on a rather existential conversation.
... finality, no closure, in the way either Estragon or Vladimir want. Estragon cannot get on with his life without this ... us going. Godot is the end, and Vladimir and Estragon are waiting like so many of us for ... or any other day. By the end of the play, he is questioning everything; weather Pozo is telling the ... Unicorn People tend to wish for their lives to play out perfectly, as in a movie or fairy tale ...
The repetition implied by the word “again’ also echoes the senselessness of existence. The audience, therefore, may find many of the qualities ofthe Theatre of the Absurd in Godot. Another example of the dual nature of Godot comes from Pozzo, many of whose lines provoke a questioning and exploring of the meaning of life while at the same time employing an Absurdist form: Pozzo: But [Hand raised in admonition] but behind this veil of gentleness and peace night is charging [Vibrantly] and will burst upon us [Snaps his fingers] pop! like that! [His inspiration leaves him] just when we least expect it. [Silence. Gloomily.
] That’s how it is on this bitch of an earth. [Long silence. ] Estragon: So long as one knows. Vladimir: One can abide one’s time.
Estragon: One knows what to expect. Vladimir: No further need to worry. Estragon: Simply wait. Vladimir: We ” re used to it.
Just as the words are not without meaning, neither are the images and actions of the play without significance. Godot’s fragmented stories, repetitions, and half-finished rituals are not performed randomly like the placement of images in a collage. Rather, these pieces combine to form a pattern like a mosaic, giving order to the seeming chaos. In this manner, Beckett playfully leads the audience towards the very meaning the play denies. The Absurd form and the Existential argument of the play combine in such a way as to strengthen the impact of Beckett’s perspective ofthe human condition. The amnesia of Didi and Gogo typifies how form and argument may complement eachother.
In Godot, the characters have lost their memory of the old rituals, stories and rites of passage. There are many instances in the play in which a story is begun but is not finished. Vladimir, for example, tries to explain the New Testament story of the two thieves to Estragon; but the story is meaningless to his friend. Reality for Gogo lies in the natural world the blue oceans inthe Bible maps, the tree, the pain of the wound on his leg. Names are also a problem for these characters; not remembering names and events demonstrates a refusal by these characters to recognize the existence of the world in which they live. This recurring amnesia in the play is further strengthened by the existential discussion of the characters: Vladimir: The tree, look at the tree.
... the fact that he needs Vladimir. The beginning of the play establishes Vladimir and Estragon's relationship. Vladimir realizes that Estragon is dependent on him ... person or one as a whole. The relationships between these characters show that they heavily rely on the each other. Without ... Friendships come in many forms. Some friends are extremely close and rely on each other. ...
[Estragon looks at the tree. ] Estragon: Was it not there yesterday? Vladimir: Yes, of course it was there. Do you not remember? We nearly hanged ourselves from it. But you wouldn’t. Do you not remember Estragon: You dreamt it. Vladimir: Is it possible that you ” ve forgotten already? Estragon: That’s the way I am.
Either I forget immediately or I never forget. Not only do the characters forget, but they talk about forgetting. The repetition is significant and meaningful: without the repetitions of the second act, for example, many of the ritual elements would not be noticed. Something is happening, however Estragon and Vladimir are performing their lives. The audience must have Act II in order to perceive this self-performance. The word, absurdity, is used to describe ridiculously unreasonable or meaningless.
Eug ne Ionesco uses absurdity in, Rhinoceros, where the reader may misinterpret the book as a comedy, even though it is written as a tragic-comedy. It contains a form of dark humor, which is evident inthe very notion of a person changing into a Rhinoceros. It contains a lighter form of verbal humor, evident in the remarks of the Logician such as “Another syllogism. All cats die, Socrates is dead. Therefore So cates is a cat.’ It also contains physical humor, an example of which is when “the Housewife appears holding the blood-stained corpse of her cat in her arms.’ Even though Rhinoceros contains these three kinds of humor, it contains an element of classical tragedy. Aristotle stated once that a tragic figure is one who “undergoes a change to misfortune not on account of baseness or villainy but on account of some tragic flaw.’ Berenger’s flaw is that he believes and disbelieves simultaneously in his value as a human.
Ionesco continues his polar existentialist theme in Rhinoceros in two ways. First is that Rhinoceros is both a tragedy and a comedy. Second is that both individualism and conformity are mocked. Ionesco mocks conformity through the reasons that each character becomes a Rhinoceros.
Daisy wants to be happy and understanding of everything. Berenger, as the last human, seems unhappy. The Rhinoceroses, however, seem happy and content. Therefore, being a Rhinoceros seems more appealing and beautiful to Daisy.
... centers on Berenger, a young man confused by life's many conflicts. His struggles with life reflect those of Ionesco himself. Berenger is ... throughout the first two acts assures their eventual transformation into rhinoceroses. The image of a "mass mind" becomes clearer as ... , one should also see the underlying theme behind Ionesco's herd of rhinoceroses. This "tragic-comedy" brings to mind Nazi Germany ...
She also becomes a Rhinoceros to escape intolerance, as she tells Berenger, “You ” re not to say unpleasant things about them. It upsets me.’ This is ironic because she can’t see how intolerant they really are, as they effectively shun all non-pachyderms. Another example is Botard. He “protested’ and feels the need to make a statement against something. Seeing that everyone responds negatively towards his statements, Botard feels that he could express his rebellious urges by becoming a Rhinoceros. The irony is that instead of rebelling, he is actually conforming, as everyone in the town becomes one except Berenger.
Another example is the old man, Jean. He transforms to gain an individual identity; he ” stored of being confused with the other Jean. The irony with him is that he is becoming even less of an individual, as the Rhinoceroses are virtually indistinguishable from one another. Ionesco mocks individuality through Berenger’s last speech. Ionesco feels that the human condition is absurd because you can simultaneously believe in two different ideologies that conflict with one another. Berenger demonstrates this, as he is torn between wanting to be a Rhinoceros “Oh, how I wish Was like them!’ and wanting to fight against them “I’ll take on the whole lot of them! I am not capitulating!’ .
Looking philosophically into the play, we discover that Ionesco sides with Jean-Paul Sartre belief that a man exists first and his essence (personality, mind, character) is acquired through his experiences. Ionesco attacks that Cartesian theory in, which deals mostly with the absurd. During a discussion between the characters Berenger and Jean, the latter says, “You don’t exist, my dear Berenger, because you don’t think.’ Berenger speaks and moves and appears to think but cannot prove that he does. The conflict between the two men is simply that the knowledge that each man thinks and therefore existence is not communicable.
Proving that another man thinks, not to mention knowing what he thinks, is impossible. Only the individual can judge whether he thinks.
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