How does Ubu Roi relate to Dadaism, body symbolism, and humor, and how does it impact the whole play? Write a commentary with references.

Ubu Roi relates to Dadaism in that it ruthlessly mocks European conventions and culture. Alfred Jarry’s absurd dialogue and ridiculous props also make his play humorous. As for body symbolism, considering how the roast chicken or toilet brush represent base ideas about the human body.

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Ubu Roi relates to Dadaism because it mocks conventions and tradition. With his play, Alfred Jarry ridicules the imputed high-mindedness of William Shakespeare. The plight of Père Ubu is, according to many critics and scholars, supposed to be a parody of Macbeth. Instead of speaking in formal, officious iambic pentameter, Père and the other characters use the kind of language one might expect in a goofy PG-13 movie.

The first words spoken in the play are, according to Barbara Wright’s English translation, “Shitter!” Père’s wife admonishes her husband’s vulgar language. Then she uses some coarse language of her own. She calls him a “great bloody oaf.” Père replies by wondering why he doesn’t just bash her brains in.

Like Jarry’s play, Dadaists were usually intent on revealing the vulgarity behind supposedly enlightened European culture. The back-and-forth between Père and Mère illuminates Europe’s relationship to what could be called “bad taste.”

The beastliness continues when Père grabs a roast chicken and proceeds to eat it. This gluttony happens in the second scene of the play. It connects Père’s body to that of a dead animal, which might symbolize the base, beastly nature of human beings in general.

Of course, Dadaism, separate from any societal or political commentary, could be considered funny. Many of the traits of Dadaism and Jarry’s play—including its ridiculous use of props and its continually foul dialogue—are humorous whether they’re in the context of Dadaism or not. Humor often relies on a fair amount of absurdity, which Jarry’s play certainly possesses.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on March 1, 2021
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