Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)




This paper is about human relation with and reaction to the Absurd. The Absurd seen in terms of the theatre, and the Absurd in relation to human images. The "Absurd" is not easy to define; it is more a condition than a concept--understood more easily by reference to an extensive body of metaphor. Ionesco calls it "... that which is devoid of purpose... . Cut off from his religious, metaphysical, and transcendental roots, man is lost... ." Which is not so much a definition as an evocation of a mood, a mood that comes from living in a world or observing one on stage. In this sense the Theatre of the Absurd creates a metaphor for the world (as in the plays of Ionesco, Pinter, and Beckett) and not a representation of the world. And also in this sense the Theatre of the Absurd is at once the most compact and the most complete image of the Absurd.

The term "Theatre of the Absurd" is most often used to mean those cases " ... when the playwright attempts to give expression to the absurd through both the structure and the language of his work ... ." This conventional terminology is not a definition but a category, used to separate the "non-classical" work of playwrights such as Beckett, Pinter, Ionesco, and Simpson from the "classical" work of playwrights such as Sartre, Camus, and Albee. It allows scholars to limit their area of study. However, since this paper is concerned primarily with development and content and only secondarily with form, both Theatre of the Absurd and Absurd Drama (used to signify the more "classical" drama) will be dealt with.