The term Absurd is essentiallyimpregnated with various human conditionsand situations arousing absurdity and is necessarily present in the post world war generation. Life has become bitter sweet or „life in death and death in life? to the coming generation. This human predicament sprouted its spears during 1920s, developed during 1940s and perpetuated in the later world. This very notion wasenchanted, transported and sometimes devastated by the intellectualsof this world such as T. S. Eliot, W. B. Yeats, Existentialists, Expressionists, Surrealists, and Absurdists of the 20th century.
And Waiting for Godot is central sun round whom all the absurdist notionsmove. Ittranscendentstime and hasthe cosmicsignificance even after 60 years ofits publication. Itinsinuates modernismand perpetuates postmodernismthatisnothing but “too much with us; late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our lives before it. ” Really in the midsty of then terminologicalmayhem, Absurd is best identified withWaiting for Godot with its sense of nothingness in life. Lapis Lazuli -An International Literary Journal (LLILJ) 29 Key words: Absurd, Existentialism, Surrealism, and Post modernism.
ThetermAbsurd is essentiallyimpregnated withvarioushumanconditions and situations arousingabsurdityand is necessarily present inthe postworld wargeneration. Lifehas become bitter sweet or„lifein death and deathinlife? to the coming generation. This human predicament sprouted itsspears during 1920s, developed during 1940s and perpetuated inthe laterworld. This verynotionwasenchanted, transported and sometimes devastated bythe intellectualsof this world. Ontheone hand T. S. Eliotbeautifully mirrored theinnerabsurdityofthemodernworld in his magnum-opus The waste land (1921), and Samuel Beckett in his master piece Waiting for Godot (1955), on the other.
Superficially Abusrd means ridiculous, but literally it means „Sense having nonsense? or „having everything hath nothing?. That is considered absurd is actually anti- traditional andavant-garde,henceis ridiculed. But originally itssignificancelies in itscrude reality. WhenEliotrepents for spiritual sterility in themodernworld, which isfulloffuryand mire, Absurd dramatists were preparing a suitable platform to expose the absurdity of modern man? s life. Absurd dramatistsevenopted the absurd formto expose theabsurdityinits mosteffectiveway.
Thisincludesthewriters ofbothdramaand prose fiction;and themostsignificantofthemare French Jean Genet and Eugene Ionesco, Irish Samuel Beckett, English Harold Pinter, American Edward Albee and others. Both mood and dramaturgyofabsurditywere anticipated intheir works. Theywere also supported byfewothermovementslike expressionism, and surrealism, alongwith fewotherforcefulworks ofFranz Kafka (TheTrial, Metamorphosis).
Thiscurrent movementemerged inFrance after the world was second, asa rebellionagainstessentialbeliefs and values oftraditional culture and traditionalliterature, whichhad the belief that-„What a piece of work is a man? How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how expressand admirable! In apprehensionhowlike a God! The beauty ofthe world!
The paragon of animals?. (Hamlet: 47) Theorizing the Absurd: Waiting for Godot SixtyYears After 30 But afterthe 1940s existentialist philosophy byJean- Paul Sartre &Ablert Camus opined human being as an isolated existant, cast into an alien universe, having a fruitless search for purpose and meaning and proceedingtowardsnothingness. They believe that:- Its an odd world Full of allthings absurd Most ofit obscure Unseen and unheard. (Brainy Quotes)
Thisvery absurdityhas been beautifully penned byAlbert Camus in his “TheMythof Sisyphus? (1942) as – “Ina universe thatis suddenly deprived ofillusions and oflight, manfeels stranger. Hisis anirremediable exile… This diovrce between man and hislife, the actor and his setting; truly constitutes the feeling of absurdity. ” (13) and as EugeneIonesco added fire to the fuel by statingthat- “ Cut off from his religious, metaphysical, and transcendental roots, man is lost, all his actions become senseless, abusrd and useless”. (A Glossary of the Literary Terms: 1) Thisvery notionseemssimilartothefollowing lines byS.
T. Coleridge,ofhisfamousballad Rime of the Ancient Mariner. – “Water-water every where Not a drop to drink”. (Coleridge: 14) SamuelBeckett(1906-89), the mostcelebrated author ofthisvein, isanIrishauthor, writing inFrenchand thentranslating hisownworks into English. His beginning lies inthe breakdown of traditional values. His prominent and dominent theme, hence is man? s alienation and search forself;which is the prevailing mode of modernman? slife. His works showthe dusk ofmodernismand dawnofpost-modernismand so washonored withNobelPrize for Literature Lapis Lazuli -An International Literary Journal (LLILJ)
31 in1969. As we bid adieuto onestar, we welcome the other ata transitionalpoint, in the same way the publication of Waiting for Godot in 1955, was the appreciated transitional presence on the stage, which bid adieu to themodernism and welcomed post-modernism. ThetermPostmodernism designates „ too muchwith us; late and soon,getting and spending, we laywaste ourlives before it.?
Thefounder of this termis Charles Jencks, buthas beenbeautifully defined by Dick Hebdige in Hiding in the Light as: The collective chagrin and morbid projections of a post- War generation of babyboomers confronting disillusioned middle age, the „predicament? of reflexivity… the collapse of cultural hierarchies, the dread engendered by the threat of nuclear self-destruction… a sense (developing onwho youread)of„ placelessness? or theabandonmentofplacelessness(criticalregionalism).
Waiting for Godot beautifully designates all these paraphernalia of postmodernism through a vague and nebulous word as well as term of terminological mayhem „absurd?. The play has proliferated at anexceptionalrate overthe lastsixtyyears becauseitdealswiththenotionof man? s existence in this futile world.
The playWaiting for Godot portrays an image of man? s existence, which evenafter60 yearsofitspublications seems quite real. Todaymanhas gained material advancement but inner triviality or fragility is still lurking upon his self. The play is a modern allegory of post-war man in a godless, dimensionless and meaningless world. recently Syrian Army attacked on Damascus suburb with chemical weapons, after the Nato? s attack on Yugoslavia and the suffrage in Iraque. Here the lines of W. B. Yeats seems quite applicable, when he says that – Turning and turning inthewidening gyre, The falcon can not hear the falconer?
Things fall apart;the center cannot hold, Mere anarchyis loosed upon theworld, The blood dimmed tide is loosed and everywhere, The ceremony ofinnocence is drowned. (The Second Coming) Theorizing the Absurd: Waiting for Godot SixtyYears After 32 Waiting for Godot formulates a definition of man that transcends the time. The plays that follow it are also pre-occupied with the feeling typical of our times. All that Fall (1959), a radio play, describes man? s frustration and absurdity.
Kropp? s Last Tape (1958) is concerned with the perfect realization of Beckett?s idea of “human isolation. ” Embers (1959) is a monologue of an old man who is haunted by the memory of the past and feels used, confused, and abused. Happy Days (1961) stages the irrationality of human existence without purpose and order. Beckett? s world bears a close resemblance to Camus? s world depicted in The Myth of Sisyphus. Universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, stranger.
His exile is without remedysince he isdeprived of the memoryofa losthomeor the hopeofapromised land. Camus? s book appeared in 1942, i. e. , during the World War II.
The development of the feeling ofthe absurd passesthroughfour stages: (1) First one recognizes the meaninglessness oflifewhichis shocking. Second isliving inconflict between intention(innervoice) andreality. Thethirdistheassumptionofheroic dimensions through living the conflictand makingithis God. The fourthand finalstage consists inthe conscious affirmationthatnothing happens in lifein reality. The sense ofanguish at the absurdityoflife is the theme oftheplays notonlyofSamuelBeckett, but ofAdamov, Ionesco and Genetalso. Asimilarsense ofthemeaninglessness oflifeisalso thetheme ofdramatists, like Sartreand Camus. Butthereis a difference.
Thetheatreofthe Absurd abandonsrational devices whereasSartre and Camus expressthenewcontentinthe old convention. MartinEsslin comments on the plays of Beckett is apt, apposite, and appropriate: Beckett? s plays lack plot even more completely than otherworks of the Theatre of the Absurd. Instead of alinear development, they present their author? s intuition of the human coordination by a method thatis essentially polyphonic, they confront their audience with an organized structure of Lapis Lazuli -An International Literary Journal (LLILJ).
33 statements and images that interpenetrate each other and thatmust be apprehended in their totality, rather like the different themes in a symphony, whichgain meaning by their simultaneous interaction. (The Theatre of the Absurd: 44-45) Waiting for Godot is now recognized as a contemporary classic. It was written in 1948, since thenithas beentranslated into manylanguages and performed all over the world. Themost remarkable thingabouttheplayisitsunconventional design. Theplayis apparently haphazard. Butactually it isan extraordinarily powerfulplayin which form and meaning are skilfully blended.
The coreofa good playis actionorhappenings, here the verypurpose oftheplayis to say that nothing happens -nothing really happens in human life. Waiting of Godot is thus a paradox. Itisa drama of inaction. Asmanisusually ignorantabout hisrealpurpose in life and he lives inhope ofsome revelationinfuture. We justhangaround waitinglike thetramps or rushmadly aboutlike Pozzo in search of some purpose. We try to get a purpose and orderinthat world whichsteadfastly refusesto evidence either. Waiting for Godot is having four characters, who are not four distinct personalities.
They are rather generalized images of all“mankind”(109) whichinLucky? s phrase, “isseento waste andpine wasteand pine” (73). Theyrepresent aview ofmanas a helpless victim of his life. Non-specific settings are a common feature of Beckett? s drama. The stage -space intheplayisabsolutelybare. “Itisindescribable. Itis likenothing. Thereis nothing. There is a tree” says Vladimir (117). Strange happenings (sudden rise of the moon, sprouting of leaves), strange characters and their irrational behaviour suggest abstract quality of this setting. The text describes itas void ornothing.
Thewhole plot, whichis actuallyabsentmoves round thewaitingofthat personwhose identity, is evennotsure. Vladimirand EstragonwaitforGodot, whose arrivalissupposed butalways suspended as modernmanwhatever wishes to do or achieve, scattersinsilence. Now, united we Theorizing the Absurd: Waiting for Godot SixtyYears After 34 do notstand butfallinthisfutile world. Eventhoughtlessnesshasbecome the source oftrouble. Thefollowing discussionmade by Vladimir and Estragon beautifully designates it: We are in no danger of thinking any more… Thinking is not theworst. What is terrible is to have thought.
(1954: 62-63) Eventually the grace of Beckett? s Waiting for Godot pruned the modern man? s body and soul alike. Even after sixty years of its publication, we designate its significance and relevance both thematically and stylistically. Really whena manpassesthroughexcess deprivationand hopelessness, whether he commits suicide or tries to take revenge but absurdity even does not allows either. Works Cited Abrams, M. H. AGlossaryofLiteraryTerms. India:ThomsonBusinessInternationalIndiaPvt. Ltd. 2006. Print. Beckett, Samuel. WaitingforGodot. NewYork: Grave Press. 1954. Print. Camus, Albert.
The Myth of Sisyphus. Harmondsworth: PenguinBooks. 1975. Print. Coleridge, S. T. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. India: Anmol Publication. 2009. Print. Esslin, Martin. The Theatre of the Absurd. New York:Doubleday. 1961. Print. Hebdige, Dick. Hiding inthe Light: On Images and Things. London: Routledge. 1988. Print. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. India: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors. 2001. Print. Lapis Lazuli -An International Literary Journal (LLILJ) 35 Bio-note- Vijay Kumar Rai, Research Scholar,Dept. of English, DDU Gorakhpur University e-mail-Vijaykumar. [email protected] com.