Absurd Theatre Essay Research Paper Early to

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Absurd Theatre Essay, Research Paper Early to Mid-Twentieth Century Influences on Theatre of the Absurd Big feet, stampeding rhinoceroses, and barren sets are typical of the theatre of the absurd. The dramatic content, symbolism, and spectacles are an amazing thing to see and an impossibility to comprehend. The philosophy of the absurd and the dawn of mankind influenced these plays in the twentieth century. The main proponents and works of the theater of the absurd and philosophy were influenced by the chaotic actions of the early and mid-twentieth century. These chaotic actions led them to search for something in literature and drama never seen before. A brief survey of the main proponents and works of the absurd philosophy and theater can lead one to an understanding of

this epoch of absurdity. The early to mid-twentieth century has been marked by chaos. The four main events or notions that inspired the absurd writers of this time are World War I, World War II, liberalism, and epidemics. The two world wars had a devastating influence on Europe’s landscape and people. The two world wars knocked down everyone’s fundamental belief about society. The breakdown of values led to Freud’s development of psychoanalysis. Freud, basically, liberalized society with his new perceptions and thoughts on the human mind. He introduced a liberal ideal that brought homosexuality out into the open in Europe. Slowly, people went public about their homosexuality; society also learned to adapt and accept such liberal ideas as the new standard norm for a post-war

Europe. Another problem that plagued Europe was the Castro 2 tremendous amount of diseases and epidemics that could not be cured or treated until the discovery, development, and production of penicillin and anti-biotics. One disease that flourished was tuberculosis. This deadly disease spread quickly to many by air. All these events and notions of the early to mid-twentieth century left a scare in the hearts and minds of men about everything. The idea of the absurd grew out of an Algerian born French writer, Albert Camus. His novels and writings expressed a philosophy for man in the twentieth century. Due to the wars, factions, assassinations, and political mess, his ideas expressed the lives of many in the early twentieth century. His life was plagued with death and suffering.

He could relate to every man in Europe and North Africa. His great work, the Myth of Sisyphus, proposed the philosophy of the absurd he was trying to build up in The Stranger and The Plague. Basically, Camus states that since the gods punished Sisyphus with eternal work, Sisyphus could only be happy in knowing he existed and this displayed the absurdity of modern man and his lifetime of labor. Albert Camus was influenced by his own absurd life. His father died during his childhood in the Great War. He grew up with an ill grandmother and illiterate mother. He became ill with the spreading tuberculosis of the early twentieth century. Later, he joined the French resistance in World War II. In France, he became the editor for Combat, a newsletter for the resistance. Through his job,

he was able to make contacts with the leading European writers of his time. This proved invaluable to him, because with the help of these authors he gained the fame that won him the Nobel Prize in literature. Many critics believe that his idea of the absurd grew out of seeing unspeakable acts during the war. In Camus’s Myth of Sisyphus, he actually states that his theory on the absurd is a reaction to the disillusionment in Europe after the two world wars: Castro 3 The Myth of Sisyphus attempts to resolve the problem of suicide, as The Rebel attempts to solve that of murder, in both cases without the aid of eternal values which, temporarily perhaps, are absent or distorted in contemporary Europe. (preface) He drew up the philosophy of the absurd to account for the devastating