The Absurd in Beckett and Camus Essay

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The realisation of the absurd, the impossible search for meaning, is an ideal that forms the backbone of post-war philosophy. As the majority of western society descended into conservatism, faced with suspicion, nuclear terror and a displeased God, existentialist reaction took root in the arts, the absurd a key feature in the challenging and exploration of the paradigms of the new times. In Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, the theatre of the absurd encapsulates all of the hollow attempt at logical meaning, whereas Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus establishes the narrative as the absurd personified. The chaotic and insensitive nature of war, as well as the increasing advances in science and rationality, would impact the theocentric society present in western societies, at the same time opening up a void of nihilistic despair. The return of many to fundamentalism would isolate and attack any of Camus’ “absurd heroes”, those individuals who carve out their own universal meaning, a fact accentuated by Beckett’s humorous comments on the inexact nature of language and expression. The anomaly of eastern Communism, for few, would illuminate the humanistic flaws in the capitalist paradigms, Beckett and Camus exploring the two systems separately. Ultimately, both composers conclude in the victory of the existentialist, a happiness and tranquility superior to that of the masses, and present a challenge to humanity that rises beyond their own context, and extends into all human beings. The conscious step away from a logical God begins the rise of existential thought, absurdity a device that removes the notion of a divine plan and rational progression of the universe. Within Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, western religious paradigms are challenged through both the form itself, and implicit references within the text. The structuring of the play, with its two mirrored acts,

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