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Three Works of Albee in the Light of Absurdism

  • Date Submitted: 03/19/2011 09:06 AM
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Three works of Albee in the light of Absurdism

"That's what happens in plays, yes? The shit hits the fan." Edward Albee

1 Edward Franklin Albee III was born in 1928 and is a famous American playwright best known for his sharp dialogues. He often comments upon modern life in his work and he managed to Americanize the European genre of the Theatre of the Absurd. In this essay three plays will be discussed against the backdrop of Absurdism: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, A Delicate Balance and Seascape. These three books have one thing is common; they all evolve around communication in interpersonal relationships; in this case between couples.

2 The Theatre of the Absurd is a term that was coined by Hungarian critic Martin Esslin who wrote a book with this title in 1962. Absurd originally means ‘out of harmony’, in a musical context. Hence its dictionary definition: ‘out of harmony with reason or propriety; incongruous, unreasonable, illogical’ (Esslin, 1961). The term ‘Absurdism’ was taken from an essay called The Myth of Sisyphus written by Camus. In this essay Camus tried to diagnose the human situation in a world of shattered beliefs: A world that can be explained by reasoning, however, faulty, is a familiar world. But in a universe that is suddenly deprived of illusions and of light, man feels a stranger. His is an irremediable exile, because he is deprived of memories of a lost homeland as much as he lacks the hope of a promised land to come. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, truly constitutes the feeling of Absurdity (Camus, 1942).  

3 Esslin believed the five following playwrights to be the instigators of this movement: Eugène Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, Arthur Adamov and Harold Pinter. These five gentlemen did not like the term very much and rather called it anti-theatre or nouveau théâtre. This form of theatre is about a fascination of what is not said; it reflects the philosophical ideas about language...

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