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Samuel Beckett

The starting point of the theatre of the absurd is Beckett’s play: “Waiting for Godot” (first performed in 1953). A literary critic applied the word “absurd” to define a group of dramatists of 1905: the Irish Beckett, the Russian Adamov and the French Ionesco. They did not form a school.
General elements:
• Absence of a real story or plot
• Vagueness about time, place and characters
• The language is meaningless like human life
• There are a lot of pauses that creates silence because of the reduced value of language (without communication we have a lot of silences)
• There are no actions
• This theatre wants to represent the absurdity of human life because our life has no sense.

Beckett’s life
He was born in 1906 in Dublin. He wrote most of his works in French (but he was Irish) and than translated them in English. He began his literary career as a short-story writer and like a novelist but he was one of a group of dramatists who developed the theatre of absurd with the common basic idea that human life is meaningless and that human beings cannot communicate each other because they cannot understand each other. Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot” (1952) was the first play in this style and his tramps characters Vladimir and Estragon became the representation of the absurd. In 1969 he receives the Nobel Prize for literature. He died in 1989.

[h2]“Waiting for Godot”

The story: It is divided in two acts. In the first act there are two characters. They are Estragon and Vladimir, two tramps. They are waiting for a mysterious Godot, who sends a boy to communicate them that he is not coming but will surely come the following day. The second act is not very different from the first one. The play ends with the two tramps still waiting for Godot, who never comes.

Absence of a traditional structure

The play has no development in time because there are no past or future but just a repetitive present. There is no setting but only a country road. There is no plot because events do not mean anything. There are no traditional characters because the only two characters don’t have personality. There are no actions because of the absence of passing of the time. There are no traditional dialogues because the characters are unable to communicate to each other.

Vladimir and Estragon:

These two characters are never described as tramps. They are two human beings that speak about God, world and themselves. They are two complementary characters. Vladimir is more practical and Estragon is a dreamer. They are unable to communicate so there are not dialogues. They talk to each other but they cannot communicate each other and this creates a grotesque situation.

The meaningless of time

Time is meaningless even though it’s at the basis of human existence. We can say that time exist only because we remember the past. When the memory does not exist, does not exist the time too. And the fact that for the theatre of the absurd human life is meaningless depends to the absence of time, which creates the sense of human life.

The language:

The language is informal, there are not real dialogues because of the impossibility to communicate. So we can see many pauses and period of silence. The audience has not a real function since there are no relationship between the audience and the characters because of the absence of communication. The themes of the plot are common dilemmas of every human being (world, waiting, nature of the self and God). In fact the confusion of Vladimir and Estragon are the same as our.
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