Why is Waiting for Godot called an absurd play?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The movement of literature referred to as the Theatre of the Absurd refers to plays that are a bleak, depressing picture of the condition and the style which acts as the medium for conveying this impression to the audience. Existentialist thinking is evident in this play by Beckett, which relates to the idea that the human life profoundly lacks any purpose or meaning and that we as humans dwell in a world which is either deeply hostile towards us or at best indifferent.

Plays that are part of the Theatre of the Absurd are stylistically marked by an abadonment of familiar conventions such as realistic characters, a clarity of plot and understandable dialogue. This helped the audience to experience the absurdity of the world that was presented before them. We can see how this play is an example of this movement by the way in which the characters are strange misfits who engage in complex and abstruse dialogue that seems to be full of non-sequiturs and illogical. This is of course given its most extreme expression in Lucky's monologue in the first act:

I resume alas alas on on in short in fine on on abode of stones who can doubt it I resume but not so fast I resume the skull to shrink.

Such a presentation of character and dialogue serve to confirm this masterpiece as an excellent example of the Theatre of the Absurd. At the end of the day, it is a play about two men who do very little except are left to wait in a meaningless situation endlessly. Beckett therefore reveals a very depressing view of human life.

wordprof eNotes educator| Certified Educator
A distinction should be made: it is not an absurd play, but an absurdist play (and even that can be argued. Beckett's view of the universe is not absurd, but goalless. He dramatizes the consequences of Existential thinking. And just because he spent his life trying to "eff" the ineffable does not mean he proselytizes this view, only that he tried to find a way to express the view. Anyone who has read more of his work knows that his humor and word juggling had a very life--affirming tone. Read "Ohio Impromptu" for a profound statement of how the two sides of human existence, the physical and the mental, join together in a non-absurdist way
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Waiting for Godot

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