Edward Albee Drama Analysis
Though he is touted sometimes as the chief American practitioner of the absurd in drama, Edward Albee only rarely combines in a single work both the techniques and the philosophy associated with that movement and is seldom as unremittingly bleak and despairing an author as Samuel Beckett. Yet the influence of Eugène Ionesco’s humor and of Jean Genet’s rituals can be discerned in isolated works, as can the battle of the sexes and the voracious, emasculating female from August Strindberg, the illusion/reality motif from Luigi Pirandello and O’Neill, and the poetic language of T. S. Eliot, Beckett, and Harold Pinter, as well as the recessive action and lack of definite resolution and closure often found in Beckett and Pinter. As the only avant-garde American dramatist of his generation to attain a wide measure of popular success, Albee sometimes demonstrates, especially in the plays from the first decade of his career, the rather strident and accusatory voice of the angry young man. The outlook in his later works, however, is more that of the compassionate moralist, linking him—perhaps unexpectedly—with Anton Chekhov; one of the characters in All Over, recognizing the disparity between what human beings could become and what they have settled for, even echoes the Russian master’s Madame Ranevsky when she says, “How dull our lives are.” Even in his most technically and stylistically avant-garde dramas, however, Albee remains essentially very...
(The entire section is 7350 words.)
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